MANILA — Over a hundred Chinese maritime militia vessels lingered in the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea over a week after they were first spotted in the area, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Wednesday.
"With regard [to the] Chinese maritime militia that we documented last April 22, 'yung more than 100 — the number still remain. There is still more than a hundred Chinese maritime militia in Julian Felipe," said Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG's spokesperson for West Philippine Sea.
The PCG also spotted 2 Chinese Coast Guard vessels in Ayungin Shoal in its latest monitoring, Tarriela said in a public briefing.
Philippine marines are stationed in a run-down navy ship grounded at the Ayungin Shoal to assert Manila's territorial claim in the waters. The shoal is located some 100 nautical miles off Palawan and is also near Mischief Reef, where China has been building various structures for years.
In late April, a Chinese ship allegedly cut off and nearly collided with a PCG patrol vessel carrying journalists near the Ayungin Shoal, during a visit to a dozen islands and reefs.
During the patrol, the PCG said 2 of its boats were also shadowed by Chinese navy and coast guard ships, and ordered to leave the waters several times.
Describing China's "persistent radio challenges" against PCG vessels, Tarriela said, "Tinatawagan nila ang Philippine Coast Guard at sinasabing tayo ang nag-iintrude sa waters nila, at they are directing us to depart, leave immediately sa maritime features na pinapatrolan natin."
(They are calling us, saying we are intruding in their waters. They are directing us to depart, leave immediately the maritime features that we usually patrol.)
"We are not going to be threatened, our presence will still be there. The Armed Forces of the Philippines and PCG vessels and aircraft will continuously patrol our West Philippine Sea," he said. .
Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, ignoring an international ruling that the assertion has no legal basis.
To back Beijing's claim, hundreds of Chinese coast guard and other vessels patrol the waters, swarming reefs and harassing and attacking fishing and other boats.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse
Video from PTV