By Andreah Dianne M. Cartagena 

An earlier unidentified object found about 800 yards west of Pag-asa Island was "forcefully retrieved" by Chinese coast guards, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command (WESCOM).

Photo Courtesy of Rappler/Wescom (Facebook)

WESCOM commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos stated that the object was found following thunder-like sounds from 11 am to 3 pm on Monday, November 21. The Naval Station Emilio Liwanag (NSEL) retrieved the debris, but Carlos said that a Chinese coast guard vessel blocked them and "forcefully retrieved said floating object by cutting the towing line attached to the NSEL rubber boat."

The Chinese embassy denied the claims as the Chinese vessel retrieved it after a "friendly consultation" instead.

“The Chinese side expressed gratitude to the Philippine side. There was no so-called blocking of the course of a Philippine Navy boat and forcefully retrieving the object at the scene,” the Chinese embassy stated.

Furthermore, the embassy identified the debris as a fairing from a recently launched Chinese rocket.

No casualties were reported after the incident.

Following this incident, National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos recommended sending a note verbale to China, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he would do so. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs also updated that the note verbale is in the works.

"And hindi nagtugma ‘yung report ng Philippine Navy at saka ‘yung report na galing sa China because the word forcibly was used in the Navy – in the Philippine Navy report. And that was not the characterization in the Chinese navy report or the report coming from China," Marcos stated.

During the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting on November 17, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Marcos that both countries must have “friendly consultations” regarding handling differences and disputes in the South China Sea.

Edited by Khezyll Galvan