BY: Genalyn Kabiling
China has not planted its flag on Sand Cay located near Kota Island in the West Philippine Sea, according to a Palace official.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said a recent check showed no foreign flag hoisted in the area, contradicting the claim of an opposition lawmaker.
“I inquired about that and apparently, as of this stage, there is no flag, you know, as of this stage,” Abella said during a Palace news conference. “According to the source that I referred to, there was none. There were no flags during that time,” he said.
Asked if the verification came from the defense department or the military, Abella said he obtained the information from a “very reliable source.”
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano earlier said a Chinese flag was supposedly discovered planted on the Philippine-controlled Sand Cay seven nautical miles from Kota Island. Alejano, a vocal critic of President Duterte, however declined to reveal his source but claimed the flag was found last month.
Abella confirmed though that there were many civilian vessels that pass by the area.
“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,” he said.
“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,’ he added, referring to Coast Guard and Navy vessels.