Coast Guard chief: Filipino captain’s response to ‘harassment’ in Scarborough may lead to ‘international repercussions’

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FILE PHOTO. Manolo Ebora, the captain of Liberian-flagged ship M/T Green Aura owned by Greek shipping company Aegean Shipping, said they were harassed by a vessel that introduced itself as a Chinese Navy warship near Scarborough Shoal on September 30.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 6) — The chief of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) lauded Wednesday the Filipino captain of a Liberian-flagged vessel reportedly harassed by a Chinese warship off Scarborough Shoal, but pointed out that his action may have some “international repercussions.”

“We are one with our people to really commend the effort of Captain Ebora in defying the order of the Chinese warship, and, in fact, I really laud him for his passion for nationalism in defense of our country’s territory,” PCG Commandant Vice Admiral Joel Garcia told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

Manolo Ebora, the captain of Liberian-flagged ship M/T Green Aura owned by Greek shipping company Aegean Shipping, said they were harassed by a vessel that introduced itself as a Chinese Navy warship near the shoal on September 30. The Chinese warship told them to change course, saying the area is under China’s jurisdiction. Ebora, however, defied the Chinese vessel’s order and insisted that he could pass through the area, citing the right to innocent passage.

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While Ebora’s action was commendable, Garcia said, such move may affect the relationship of countries involved.

“There are international repercussions in the security of that government, the economic relationship of that government with other government,” he said.

“The complication is this, we don’t know the foreign relationship of Liberia with China and the goods being carried by the ship commanded by a Filipino captain is owned by a Greek cargo owner which is intended for China. And We don’t know the relationship of Greece and China," he also said.

"In other words, if you are a Filipino ship captain, you have to show your passion for nationalism for your country, but then again one must understand the responsibility and obligation as [an OFW] serving another government."

Garcia also said “there might have been inadvertence on the part of Captain Ebora” that may affect other Filipino seafarers abroad.

“We must strike the balance between our passion for nationalism and our obligation and responsibility to the 500,000 Filipino seafarers who are also working for foreign ships,” he said.

Garcia called the Chinese vessel’s move as harassment. But he said Ebora should file a marine protest through the Liberian government, and not the Philippines.

“No way in international law that the ship captain may file it to his mother country. There’s no way for the Philippines to investigate the incident inside the territory of another country, which is Liberia,” he explained.