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The Philippine Navy (PN) will not fire the first shot and is willing to resolve issues through peaceful means despite China’s provocative actions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), its chief said on Tuesday.

“The one who fires the first shot loses public support because in so many of our engagements, we (reiterated that) we should resolve our issues through peaceful means,” Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said in an interview with reporters.

One of the provocative incidents he was referring to involved the anti-submarine corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), which was allegedly targeted by the fire-control system of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army – Navy corvette it encountered while patrolling off at the Kalayaan Island Group last February 17.

“Remember the February incident with (BRP) Conrado Yap where they pointed their fire-control system in the direction of (BRP) Conrado Yap? That is an example. That is actually a provoking action. That is a provoking action from one Navy ship to another Navy ship. So if let’s say, worst(-case) scenario that there was an actual conflict or firing of the first shot, that is a very unpopular move,” Bacordo said.

Other provocative actions of the Chinese include its ships getting too close to replenishment civilian vessels, he added.

Bacordo, however, said the decision to fire or not is a judgment call of the commander of the PN vessel.

“That’s a judgment call already so you can invoke self-defense, or unit self-defense in that case, that’s a different story. So again, that’s why (ship) commanding officers before they reach that position, they (must) have spent several years (on) sea duty,” he added. (PNA)