MANILA, Philippines – The Malacañang Palace has denied Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano’s claim that a Chinese flag was spotted flying on top of a sand cay near the Philippine-controlled Kota Island in the West Philippine Sea.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Thursday there is no truth to Alejano’s claim, citing ‘reliable’ sources.
“I inquired about that and apparently, as of this stage, there is no flag. And but it seems that the place, in itself, is subject to many passers-through and in fact, there are evidences of people who do park there,” said Abella during a press briefing.
Early this week, Alejano said he received information that a Chinese flag was observed on the sand features in the West Philippine Sea last July, but added he is verifying if it still remains there up to this day.
“According to the information that I received, a Chinese flag mounted on a steel pipe was discovered planted on a sand cay located seven nautical miles northeast off Kota Island. It was discovered around third week of July 2017,” said Alejano on Tuesday.
It was also the partylist lawmaker who revealed that Chinese vessels have been spotted near Pag-asa Island.
But Abella explained those ships could not belong to Chinese military but to civilians, most probably fishermen.
“And mainly but these are not military but mainly these are citizens who may be—but this is not verified—but mainly, these are citizens and not white or gray ships,” said Abella.