A maritime expert from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman claimed that the piece of metal scrap found in the Busuanga early this week was a debris from a Chinese rocket launched into orbit recently.

Professor Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, claimed that the debris is part of the Long March 5B rocket that was launched by China from Hainan province on October 31.

“The rocket lofted the 3rd and final part of the Tiangong Space Station into orbit,” Batongbacal said.

He also warned of a possibility of more rocket debris falling in Philippine waters, as China will have more rocket launches in the future for its ongoing construction of space station.

He also said the Philippines and its surrounding waters are well within the potential debris field of any Chinese rocket launched from its Wenchang Launch Facility in Hainan.

The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), also released an earlier advisory that the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration had identified the areas of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Bajo de Masinloc, and Busuanga town as among the possible drop zones of the wreckage.

“This is just another reason why the Philippines should immediately ratify the outer space treaties that deal with the liability of launching States and procedure for compensation for damage or injury that may be caused by their space activities,” Batongbacal explained.

Last Monday, a large scrap of the rocket debris was found along the shores of Colocoton Island by Barangay Cheey Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative Raniel Montilla.

Aside from Busuanga, pieces of debris were also reportedly found by fishermen in Occidental Mindoro.

On Tuesday afternoon, a navy patrol boat went to Busuanga to pick up the debris.

Sought for comments on where the debris will be brought and what will be done with it, Western Command (WESCOM) spokesperson Maj. Cherryl Tindog said she had no idea as she said that decisions and statements will come from higher authorities.

She also said further information on the matter will be released by Malacañang.

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