MANILA - Malacañang said Tuesday it would not summon Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua over the ramming of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese ship.
"The President, we feel, is not inclined to do that," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said, noting that no invitation has been extended to the Chinese ambassador to visit the Palace.
"Bakit mo iniimbitahan, eh nag-iimbestiga pa lang nga eh. Bakit may kasalanan ba ito, kailangan bang magpaliwanag sa atin? Parang ganoon ang dating eh. Kaya siguro mas maganda, since you’re already conducting your investigation, we’re also conducting ours, then let’s meet later on kung anong dapat," he said.
(Why would you invite him when we're still conducting an investigation. Did he do anything wrong for him to explain to us? That's how it appears to be. Maybe it's better that since you're already conducting your investigation, we're also conducting ours, then let's meet later on what should be done.)
This contradicts Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol's earlier statements that Beijing's envoy would be invited to the Palace to explain.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also clarified that inviting Zhao to explain was only floated during a Cabinet cluster meeting Monday.
"It was discussed, I'd be lying if I say it wasn't discussed. But whether or not we'll use that option, hindi po namin napag-agreehan sa meeting na iyon (it wasn't agreed upon during the meeting)," he told reporters Tuesday.
The typically strong-worded President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday dismissed the sinking of a Filipino boat by a Chinese ship as just a "maritime incident"
"'Wag kayong maniwala diyan sa mga politiko, bobo, gusto papuntahin 'yung Navy... Banggaan lang ng barko 'yan. Do not make it worse," he said.
(Do not believe those stupid politicians. They want to send the Navy. That is just a collision of boats.)
A Filipino fishing boat anchored near Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea sank after getting hit by a Chinese vessel. The 22 crewmen were left at sea and got rescued by fishermen from a Vietnamese vessel.
The incident has outraged many, heightening tensions amid Beijing's expansive claims to the resource-rich South China Sea.
Beijing, through its embassy in Manila, meanwhile denied that its men abandoned the Filipino fishermen, saying the captain of the Chinese ship tried to save them but was "afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats."
The Palace also reiterated that the Philippine government would wait for the results of its own investigation as well as that of China's before making any decision.
"Hinihintay natin officially ano ang findings nila (China). Tayo din, nag-iimbestiga," Panelo said.
(We are waiting for China's official findings while we investigate the incident too.)