MANILA - Five Chinese and two Vietnamese fishing vessels were recently ordered by the Philippine Coast Guard to (PCG) leave the country's waters off Palawan province, the PCG said Sunday.
In a statement, the PCG said its BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) successfully dispersed the foreign vessels caught last June 30 in the vicinity of Marie Louise Bank some 147 nautical miles off El Nido, Palawan.
The Marie Louise Bank is a part of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) in the West Philippine Sea.
Using its Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), the BRP Cabra conducted a radio challenge after the seven ships were monitored via radar and automatic identification system.
After the dispersal of the foreign vessels, the PCG said BRP Cabra checked on the condition of 34 Filipino fishermen aboard F/B XIROXIRA from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, that was also monitored at the vicinity waters off Marie Louise Bank.
The Filipino fishermen said they were able to conduct normal operations in the past two weeks without any untoward incident at sea, the PCG said.
The Philippines' maritime disputes with China over the South China Sea, within which is the West Philippine Sea, flared up over the last few months after hundreds of Chinese ships were found moored in the vicinity of the Julian Felipe Reef, which is within Manila's exclusive economic zone.
Scores of other Chinese ships were found later spread in other features in the WPS, according to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea.
China's claim over almost the entire South China Sea has been adjudged as having no legal basis by an international arbitration court nearly five years ago.