CHINESE military and paramilitary ships continued to loiter in the waters of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), the Philippine Coast Guard reported on Thursday as it challenged the incursions.
The PCG said its vessel, BRP Malapascua, carried out a maritime patrol mission (MARPAT) from March 16 up to 21 in the KIG wherein it encountered and drove away Chinese vessels—and even Vietnamese ships.
In those encounters, the PCG ships and Chinese vessels issued challenges against each other, although the Chinese ships were clearly inside the Philippine waters, with Kalayaan being part of Palawan.
“During its MARPAT mission, BRP Malapascua spotted several foreign-flagged vessels—including a number of China Coast Guard Vessels [CCGVs] and a People’s Liberation Army-Navy [PLAN] Type 056A Jiangdao II Class Missile Corvette,” It said.
In Sabina Shoal, the PCG ship monitored the presence of at least 20 Chinese and Vietnamese vessels and “encountered” at least two CCGVs with bow numbers 5304 and 5305 near the shoal.
“Multiple radio challenges were issued by the PCG vessel but no response was received. Rigid-hull Inflatable Boats [RHIBs] were deployed to disperse the foreign flagged vessels in and around the shoal,” the PCG said.
On Pag-asa Island, Malapascua encountered a PLAN vessel with bow number 649 within Pag-asa’s 12-nautical-mile territorial waters.
“The PCG vessel issued multiple radio challenges while the PLAN vessel responded with its own challenge,” the PCG said.
On its way to Buliluyan Port in Palawan and while patrolling Ayungin Shoal, the PCG vessel monitored the presence of CCGV 5201 and issued radio challenges.
However, the CCGV 5201 instead “proceeded to shadow BRP Malapascua at a distance of approximately 1,600 yards.”
Malapascua reported that during its encounter with CCGV 5201 at the Ayungin Shoal, it went as close as 1.2 nautical mile from the grounded Philippine Navy vessel BRP Sierra Madre.
The PCG said that reports of the incident were furnished to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, adding it was working with the military’s Western Command (WESCOM) and the Area Task Force-West (ATF-WEST) to monitor and respond to the presence of foreign vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu emphasized the importance of PCG patrols and the need to promote peace and stability in the region.
Image credits: PCG