PCG says China laser light use already 'second time'

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2023 06:02 PM

This handout photo taken on Feb. 6, 2023 and released by the Philippine Coast Guard on Feb. 13 shows a Chinese Coast Guard vessel shining a "military grade laser light" at a Philippine Coast Guard boat nearly 20 kilometers from Ayungin Shoal, in the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea. PCH/Handout 

MANILA — China's use of a military-grade laser light last week was the "second time" that it shooed away the Philippine Coast Guard from the West Philippine Sea with the device, an official said on Tuesday. 

In June last year, the Chinese coast guard shone a blue laser light for about 20 minutes at the tugboat BRP Habagat, which left its crew with temporary blindness and itchy skin, said Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG's Adviser of the Commandant for Maritime Security. 

On Feb. 6, the Chinese coast guard allegedly used green laser lights which also left the crew of a Philippine patrol boat temporarily blinded, the PCG recently said. 

"This is already the second time [that China used laser lights]," Tarriela said in a public briefing. 

In both incidents, the PCG said it was helping in a resupply mission for marines who are stationed in a derelict navy ship grounded at the Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) to assert Manila's territorial claim in the waters. 

February's resupply mission was successful despite China's laser use, Tarriela said. 

"It is important for us to highlight that the mission was accomplished, we were able to provide escort," he said. 

"Sa mga pagkakataon na mauulit ito, ang Philippine Coast Guard will still have this commitment na ang Coast Guard, regardless of this danger will still be patrolling our waters in the West Philippine Sea," he added. 

(If this is repeated, the Philippine Coast Guard will still have this commitment to patrol our waters.) 

Video from PTV

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said it had filed a diplomatic protest to the Chinese embassy in Manila over the "latest aggressive activities of the Chinese Coast Guard against Philippine official vessels."

"These acts of aggression by China are disturbing and disappointing as it closely follows the state visit to China of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.," DFA spokeswoman Teresita Daza said.

Marcos and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed last month to "manage maritime differences through diplomacy and dialogue, without resorting to force and intimidation", Daza said.

There have been a series of maritime incidents between the Manila and Beijing, which claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea. China has ignored an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Monday the Philippine boat had "intruded" into China's sovereign waters without permission.

He said the Chinese Coast Guard personnel had acted in a "professional and restrained" manner.

Days before the latest incident, the United States and the Philippines agreed to resume joint patrols in the sea, and struck a deal to give US troops access to another 4 military bases in the Southeast Asian country.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday criticized the Chinese Coast Guard's actions as "provocative and unsafe".

— With a report from Agence France-Presse

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