National Security Council: 150 Chinese ships still in West PH Sea

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2021 09:40 PM

MANILA - The National Security Council (NSC) said Wednesday that there are still around 150 Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

This was revealed by the NSC to the House of Representatives during the plenary deliberations on the 2022 budget.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon defended the agency’s budget during the interpellation of Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas.

"Kino-confirm po ng NSC na meron pa rin ho umaaligid-aligid na Chinese maritime vessels doing fishing operations, moving from one spot to another. Yun nga po ang mga binabantayan ng counterparts sa Philippine side. Kaya nakikita natin yung challenge na ginagawa ng Philippine vessels against these Chinese," Biazon said.

He added that there are around 150 ships in the maritime area, noting that these are big ships.

"Nag-range from 30 to 60-meter vessels. Mga malalaking bapor din. Ito po yung range ng sizes ng vessels," Biazon said.

"Sa appearance nila mukhang civilian vessels kaya tinatawag na maritime militia. They look civilian vessels but you know they have some strategic mission to do out there. Pero pagtinignan po natin mukhang civilian," Biazon said.

"They are civilian vessels. Wala namang nakikitang armaments na naka-install sa vessels na yan sila naman po ay hindi marked as vessels of Chinese navy. In appearance, they are civilian vessels. But as we mentioned they may be doing some functions that have strategic value to China," he added.

Biazon also told Brosas that the NSC is recommending the deployment of civilian vessels by the Philippines to assert the Philippines’ rights in the area.

"Isa po sa mga masasabi natin kinakailangan gawin at nirekomenda ay ang pagkakaroon ng physical presence sa WPS. Para ma-enforce o mag-assert ng ating sovereign rights sa bahagi ng karagatang yan in fact Meron ngang panukalang pagkakaroon ng mga maritime vessels that are civilian in nature and research vessels na maaarin nating i-deploy bilang bahagi ng stratehiya sa WPS. Isa po yan sa mga panukala ng NSC," he said.

"Ang recommendation ng NSC is to increase our presence by means of patrolling the ocean. And therefore the recommendation is for us to grant their fund request for additional vessels that may operate. And to continue the diplomatic efforts that our country is doing each time there are incidents. involving foreign vessels that intrude in the exclusive economic zone," Biazon added.

He said the NSC also recommended the acquisition of more military vessels for deployment to the area. 

"Short of going to war, we think that these are sufficient measures that are being done by the government. Hindi naman ho siguro natin gusto na kung nagtatayo sila eh gigibain natin yung kanilang tinatayo o kung may naglalayag na vessel eh papuputukan natin. Lahat tayo ayaw ng giyera. At 'yun lang naman ho ang kakulangan, kulang na lang na gagawin natin 'yung pagpapalakas ng ating armed forces and our maritime capability to patrol the seas, surveillance capability natin, diplomatic efforts. We think is the things we can do now short of going to war," he explained.

Biazon said the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to file diplomatic protests over China's incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

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