Chinese maritime vessels seen in Julian Felipe reef
MANILA – The government’s National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) reported the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed the presence of about 220 Chinese fishing vessels (CFVs), believed to be manned by Chinese militia personnel, moored in line formation at the Juan Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) last March 7,2021.
The reef is a boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef at the northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs (Union Reefs) some 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan and within the Philippine’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS) where the country enjoys exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources from living from fish and other marine produce and non-living resources including oil and natural gas.
According to the statement, despite clear weather last March 7, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef and showed no actual fishing activities and had their full-lights turned-on during nighttime.
The Task Force expressed concern due to possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment as well as risks to safety of navigation.
According to the statement, the government will continue to monitor the situation and remains dedicated to its duty to protect the country’s sovereign rights in its maritime domain in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and will pursue peaceful and active initiatives on environmental protection, food security, freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea as part of its overall national security policy.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea is chaired by National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. (Melo M. Acuña)
Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. National Security Adviser and Chairman, National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea. (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)