Palace not letting guard down over West PH Sea

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 19 2014 04:12 PM | Updated as of Jun 20 2014 12:12 AM

MANILA - Government isn't letting its guard down over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma on Thursday said, "Government continues to monitor movements in WPS. Number of vessels is variable according to [Foreign Affairs] Secretary [Albert] del Rosario; the reported number [10-12] vessels has been observed to have 'trickled down' according to him yesterday."

Coloma did not give further details.

On Wednesday, the Philippine Air Force reported that as many as 10 to 12 Chinese government and military vessels are patrolling the West Philippine Sea including areas claimed by the Philippines as part of its territory.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, the Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force, said this is among the information that the Air Force regularly provides the rest of the Armed Forces, as they monitor and plan out their next moves in the disputed waters.

"There are times that they number - in the whole of the West Philippine Sea - ten to twelve. But it also trickles down to three or four," he said.

Delgado said the Air Force's role in the territorial defense of the West Philippine Sea is to provide the necessary air intelligence.

"We provide the information necessary as far as patrols are concerned - what things we see from above as we conduct air patrols," he said.

The Air Force is now focusing on Bajo de Masinloc near Zambales, and Ayungin Shoal in Palawan "because these are the areas with pictures of new activities being done by other countries."

China and the Philippines have been disputing ownership of the West Philippine Sea for years.

Tensions rose earlier this year following the filing of the Philippine arbitration case against China. -- With report by Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News