DEPARTMENT of National Defense officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. stood by the report of Filipino troops that Chinese Coast Guard personnel “rudely” took the rocket debris while it was being towed by authorities.

“We stand by the accounts of our personnel in the area that, contrary to the narrative of the Chinese side, the debris being towed by a Philippine vessel to Naval Station Emilio Liwanag for inspection was rudely taken by personnel from CCGV5203,” Faustino said.

The Defense chief made the statement after the Chinese Embassy in Manila said that Philippine military personnel returned the rocket debris, which they retrieved about 800 yards west off Pagasa Island on Sunday morning, to the Chinese Coast Guard after a “friendly consultation.”

Faustino said they are also investigating the reported explosions near the Pagasa Island hours after the recovery of the rocket debris.

He said there is no additional information regarding the incident yet.

“Our Armed Forces, together with relevant government agencies, are working to ensure the safety of our Filipino community in Pagasa and the surrounding areas. We are reviewing all reports to determine our future actions,” said Faustino.

“Events such as these are exactly why we continue to advocate for open lines of communication and dialogue mechanisms. We support the diplomatic efforts of Philippine government agencies to engage our Chinese counterparts to address the incident,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)