More Philippine Navy ships to patrol the West Philippine Sea
MANILA – General Cirilito Sobejana, AFP chief of staff, has ordered the deployment of additional Navy ships to augment the conduct of maritime sovereignty patrols in the West Philippine Sea, popularly known as South China Sea.
“We seek to reassure our people of the AFP’s strong and unwavering commitment to protect and defend them from harassment and ensure that they can enjoy their rights over the country’s rich fishing ground which is the source of their livelihood,” Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson said in a statement.
The AFP’s Western Command has been the government’s ‘eyes and ears” providing vital information on what is happening in their area of responsibility.
He added the importance of the data from littoral monitoring stations which include the Philippine Marines in the islands and islets, and features they occupy, and from regular aerial and maritime sovereignty contained in the reports submitted to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) “cannot be over emphasized.”
The Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to Major General Arevalo, resorts to “non-traditional means” to manage the issues arising in the contested part of South China Sea.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines engaged their Chinese counterpart in a meeting to discuss the situation in the West Philippine Sea.
“We conveyed the Defense Secretary’s demand for the vessels to leave Julian Felipe Reef where 183 vessels were sighted per AFP’s recent aerial patrol,” General Arevalo said.
According to the statement, China’s People’s Liberation Army representatives underscored their government’s assurance the ships are not manned by militia and were simply constrained to seek shelter in the area when inclement weather hampered their fishing activity.
The Chinese representatives committed themselves to discuss and explain any future issues involving the PLA, according to the AFP statement. ((Melo M. Acuña)
Photos of the Chinese Fishing Vessels (CFV) numbering to 183 at the Julian Felipe Reef. (Handout photos from the Armed Forces of the Philippines).