(Update) The Chinese warship stuck at Hasa-Hasa Shoal (international name: Half Moon Shoal) pulled free and left along with six other vessels Sunday, normalizing the situation in the area, officials said.

A Coast Guard vessel in the area confirmed that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy frigate No. 560 and the other ships spotted near it left before noon, Peter Paul Galvez, defense department spokesman, said.

“We will be continuously investigating the matter regarding the incident,” he said.

Commodore Rustom Pena, commander of the Naval Forces West (Navforwest), said the situation in Hasa-Hasa is now “normal” after the Chinese vessels’ departure.

Pena, however, said he still does not know how the warship ended up at Hasa-Hasa, which is just 65 nautical miles away from the island-town of Balabac, Palawan.

“Dumadaan lang siguro. Marami naman dumadaan diyan,” he said.

Vessels of the Navforwest will be continuing patrols in the area, Pena said, adding their ships were not there when the incident occurred. (John Roson)

– end –