Ships from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) were able to drive away a number of Chinese vessels from the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), NTF WPS chairperson Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. said in a statement Tuesday.
On April 27, the PCG vessel BRP Cabra accompanied by BFAR vessels MCS 3002 and 3004 proceeded to Sabina Shoal, located 130 nautical miles west of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and east of Ayungin Shoal, in performance of West Philippine Sea (WPS) law enforcement functions and maritime exercises.
Upon their arrival, the Philippine ships sighted seven Chinese vessels nested or in stationary linear formation off Sabina Shoal.
“The crew of BRP Cabra issued a series of challenges to the offending vessels but elicited no response from the CMMs (Chinese maritime militia). After around 20 minutes, however, the CMMs vessels dispersed and left the shoal after being challenged by BRP Cabra,” Esperon said.
Also, on April 29, the BRP Cabra spotted five CMMs that immediately left upon arrival of the Philippine ships.
The Philippine government, he said, will not shirk from its constitutional obligation in preserving and protecting its territorial integrity and in the exercise of its sovereign rights.
“As part of our rotational patrol over BdM, PCG vessels BRP Sindangan and BFAR MCS 3005 are en route to the area to enforce our fisheries laws and protect our fishermen. On the other hand, BRP Malapascua is underway to the Municipality of Kalayaan,” he said.
Aside from government maritime patrols, the Area Task Force West also regularly conducts Joint Seaborne Patrol Operations (JSPO) around the Pag-asa Islands, covering the sandbars to the west and reefs to the east of the main island.
Esperon said these include regular patrols to Pag-asa Cay 2 (Sandy Cay), contrary to claims that the Philippines has “lost” this feature that is part of the country’s territory.
“The NTF WPS emphasizes that the maritime exercises and patrols routinely conducted by the PCG and BFAR are part of the maritime law enforcement activities of its member agencies in the exercise of Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights over our territorial seas and EEZ, respectively,” he said. SOVEREIGNPH