MANILA • A Malaysian naval patrol detained three Philippine fishermen for encroaching in territorial waters in the disputed Spratlys this month, the Philippine military said yesterday , in what may be the first such incident involving South-east Asian neighbours.
On May 9, the Philippine vessel was about 29km south-west of Commodore Reef, one of nine Philippine-held territories in the South China Sea, when a Malaysian patrol boat intercepted it.
When the vessel tried to flee, the patrol boat gave chase, and briefly detained the fishermen.
Hours later, they were turned over to Philippine troops stationed on Commodore Reef, a Philippine navy spokesman said.
"The Western Command is saddened by the incident involving our fellow Filipinos," Captain Cherryl Tindog said in a statement.
The fishermen complained of having been punched and kicked during questioning by the Malaysian navy after being apprehended, Capt Tindog added.