File photo of the China maritime militia vessels taken on April 3, 2021.

The Western Command (WESCOM) has released a statement vowing to conduct an investigation into the incident involving the alleged harassment of a fishing boat carrying an ABS-CBN television crew by China Coast Guard vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The incident was captured on television by the media crew headed by ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano. Its report said they were enroute to Ayungin Shoal when they were blocked forcing their boat captain to turn back, with a Chinese vessel behind them in pursuit. 

“WESCOM will conduct an inquiry on the circumstances attendant to the alleged harassment of a Filipino watercraft which they boarded within the Philippine EEZ. With Ms Zambrano’s collaboration and cooperation, WESCOM will be able to establish the circumstances and document the incident so that we can also determine the next course of action,” the Wescom said in a statement.

The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest against Beijing following the arrival of over 200 Chinese militia vessels around Julian Felipe Reef, an area that is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana had also accused the Chinese of preparing to take over and occupy the reef.

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