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Alejano says Chinese vessels taking 'aggressive' action vs. PHL Navy ship

Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano on Tuesday claimed that China has been taking "aggressive" actions against a Philippine Navy ship situated in the Pag-asa Island.

Alejano also said that President Rodrigo Duterte's joke that China should make the Philippines as one of its provinces is "quite close to the truth."

In a statement, Alejano said he received a report that around a month ago, Chinese fishing vessels and the Chinese Coast Guard and Navy have been lurking at the Pag-asa Island where a Philippine Navy ship was nearby.

He said the Philippine Navy ship was conducting regular troop rotation and mission when it sighted a Chinese vessel approximately four nautical miles off the said island.

Two minutes later, Alejano said two more Chinese vessels were spotted heading to the direction of the first one.

The Philippine Navy ship then saw a Chinese Coast Guard vessel and a Navy warship of China's People’s Liberation Army some five nautical miles off the island.

"The Chinese vessels proceeded to form a semi-circle formation around Pag-asa Island. Meanwhile, the Chinese Coast Guard and Navy vessels closed in and shadowed the Philippine Navy ship for as close as 2 nautical miles northwest of Pag-asa Island, near the sandbars," Alejano said.

Alejano said the semi-circle formation and shadowing by the Chinese vessels showed the "cabbage strategy" being used by China to control a certain area.

"The quick response of Chinese vessels upon the arrival of our Navy ship in Pag-asa Island suggests that they are permanently stationed nearby," he said.

"We could infer that the reclaimed areas by China in the West Philippine Sea, particularly Subi Reef, are being used as forward operating bases. Again, confirming the militarization in the disputed waters," he added.

Alejano said the rapid militarization of the West Philippine Sea, the government's lack of formal and transparent protests against this, and the report ventures of China on Philippine resources all point to a "passive and subservient strategy by the administration."

"The President should be reminded that our territorial integrity and sovereignty are issues that should never be joked about," he said. — BAP, GMA News