Philippine Coast Guard patrols West PH Sea, sends boats to lingering Chinese vessels

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 15 2021 06:25 PM

Photo courtesy of the Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) this week held maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea, where several of China's maritime assets remained, it said Thursday. 

The PCG released photos which showed authorities on board a vessel close to 7 lingering Chinese ships in Philippine waters, which were taken on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Photo courtesy of the Philippine Coast Guard

Photo courtesy of the Philippine Coast Guard

Photo courtesy of the Philippine Coast Guard

Photo courtesy of the Philippine Coast Guard

The area is within the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea, a huge part of which is being claimed by China despite a July 2016 UN tribunal ruling invalidating it.

The PCG said its officers patrolled the area using BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409), joined by 2 smaller boats from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that were manned by their personnel. 

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During patrol, the PCG said it sent 2 rubber boats to the Chinese vessels anchored in the area. Details were not released on what happened next.

Coast Guard Spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo pointed out that photos taken by the PCG personnel in the waters is proof of their support for the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS). 

The task force earlier said they would continue sending sea assets in the West Philippine Sea to invoke the country's sovereignty. Earlier this week, the task force reported that some 240 Chinese vessels were swarming the area. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) this week filed a fresh diplomatic protest over the reported presence of some 240 Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea. 

The agency also demanded the withdrawal of Chinese ships in the Julian Felipe Reef, which lies within the West Philippine Sea, and vowed to file a fresh diplomatic protest every day until the last ship is gone from the area. 

Malacañang earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte had "underscored the importance of the 2016 Arbitral Ruling before the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly."

"The presence of Philippine maritime security and law enforcement forces have been stepped up in the municipality of Kalayaan to protect Filipino fishermen and the marine resources," said Presidential spokesman Harry Roque. 

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Duterte has pursued friendlier relations with China upon assuming power in 2016, shelving the maritime disputes issue in favor of economic aid and investments.

— With a report from Johnson Manabat and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News