Philippine Coast Guard challenges Chinese Maritime Militia as NTF-WPS condemns dangerous maneuvers
NTF-West Philippine Sea condemns Chinese Coast Guard activities vs Philippine Coast Guard vessels
MANILA – Secretary Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr., National Security Adviser and Chairperson of the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea said he ”condemns in strongest terms the shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuvers and radio challenges” by the Chinese Coast Guard on Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels BRP Gabriela Silang and BRP Sindangan.
In a statement, the NTF-WPS said the PCG vessels were on legitimate law enforcement patrols and maritime exercises within the Bajo de Masinloc (BdM) from April 24 to 25 this year, which the Task Force considered “a violation of Philippine sovereignty.”
It was learned the PCG assets with another vessel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) were en route to the area to enforce Philippine fishery laws and protect Filipino fishermen.
Meanwhile, BRP Malapascua was on its way to Kalayaan. The NTF-WPS said they noted China’s announcement it will implement a unilateral fishing ban on Chinese fishing vessels in areas of the South China Sea north of the 12th parallel from May 1 - August 16.
“The fishing ban does not apply to our fisherman and the NTF-WPS opposes China’s imposition of the same over the areas within the territory and jurisdiction of the Philippines. The NTF-WPS reiterates that our fisherfolk are encouraged to go out and fish in our waters in the West Philippine Sea,” the statement said.
Secretary Esperon said the Area Task Force-West regularly conducts Joint Seaborne Patrol Operations around the Pag-asa Islands including the sandbars to the west and reefs to the east of the main island. There are regular patrols to Pag-asa Cay 2 (Sandy Cay), contrary to claims that the Philippines has “lost” this feature which is part of Philippine territory.
Last April 27, PCG BRP Cabra and BFAR vessels MCS 3002 and 3004 proceeded to Sabina Shoal, some 130 nautical miles west of Puerto Princesa, Palawan ang east of Ayungin Shoal for their routine patrol and maritime exercises. Upon arrival, they saw seven Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels in stationery formation at the shoal. The BRP Cabra issued a series of challenges to the offending vessels but the CMMs did not respond.
After 20 minutes, the vessels dispersed and left the shoal. Two days later, on April 29, BRP Cabra returned to Sabina Shoal and saw five CMMs vessels which immediately left upon the Philippine vessel’s arrival.
“The Philippines is not deterred from defending our national interest, patrimony, and our dignity as a people with all that we have,” Secretary Esperon added. (Melo M. Acuña)
Philippine Coast Guard video. (PCG)