Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Philippine coast guard reported of not spotting the Chinese ships at the disputed waters in the last three days.
“Since three days ago there are no longer Chinese ships, coastguard or navy, in the Scarborough area,” Lorenzana told reporters on Friday (28 October).
“If the Chinese ships have left then it means our fishermen can resume fishing in the area.”
Deputy US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had told reporters in Beijing (October 29) that China’s withdrawal from disputed Shoal was a positive development even if it were an apparent result of Duterte’s bilateral ties with China.
According to State Department Spokesman Mark Toner, reports would be validated whether China has actually left the region and the US was assessing it.
“We hope it is certainly not a temporary measure. We would like it to be a sign that China and the Philippines are moving toward an agreement on fishing access at Scarborough that would be in accordance with the July 12 arbitral decision,” the Associated Press cited Toner as saying in Washington.
Neither of the US and Philippines are reported to have explained the circumstances under which the Chinese vessels left the shoal. Philippines and China have not clearly said if both countries had reached an agreement regarding this.
In a regular briefing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told, “[China and the Philippines] were able to work together on issues regarding the South China Sea and appropriately resolve disputes.”