Sun. May 9th, 2021
(Photo Courtesy: https://www.philstar.com/)

An aircraft from the Armed Forces of the Philippines engaged vessels of the China Coast Guard in a face off at least nine times last year while patrolling Philippine water near Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

This was narrated by Philippine Air Force pilot and Col. Nonilon Lawas when asked by Sen. Risa Hontiveros about the aerial patrol during the Wednesday hearing of the Commission on Appointments, which approved his appointment as colonel.

“While on maritime patrol along Bajo de Masinloc, we were challenged nine times by the Chinese Coast Guard and we were forced to leave our territory,” he said.

Lawas’ team was collecting evidence on China’s massive harvest of giant clams  in Philippine waters that was used in a diplomatic protest filed by Manila against Beijing in 2019.

The team of four led by Lawas was accorded the Silver Cross Medal for their successful evidence gathering.

Based on data analysis from automatic identification systems (AIS), which track vessel position at sea from the website MarineTraffic, China has not stopped the deployment of its Coast Guard ships “around symbolically important features” in the South China Sea, including within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) like Panatag and Ayungin (Second Thomas) shoals.

The AIS is a real-time tracking system transmitting a ship’s location, making its presence known. SOVEREIGNPH

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