Probe underway as Chinese Coast Guard 'drives away' Filipino fishing boat in Ayungin Shoal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 21) The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Saturday said it has launched a probe into a recent incident in the West Philippine Sea — where a Chinese Coast Guard ship allegedly drove away a Filipino fishing boat in Ayungin Shoal.

The PCG said it has received information from the captain of the Filipino boat that the China-flagged vessel maneuvered towards them while they were fishing in the area on Jan. 9.

"Accordingly, [the Chinese Coast Guard vessel] deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat. The personnel onboard gestured for the Filipino fishermen to leave the area," the PCG said.

While the Filipino boat left the vicinity, Beijing's vessel "continued to shadow" them, according to authorities.

Following the incident, the PCG said additional personnel will be deployed to the West Philippine Sea.

It added that officials are gathering more evidence, which will then be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The DFA, for its part, vowed to take "appropriate diplomatic action" upon verification and assessment of the incident.

The Philippine government has filed a slew of diplomatic protests against China amid repeated incursions in the country's waters — urging the economic superpower to comply with the landmark 2016 arbitral victory on the South China Sea case.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier said his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, had vowed to find a solution for the parties to avoid any misunderstanding in the contested waterway.

READ: Marcos: Xi promises to find 'compromise' that will allow Filipinos to fish in WPS