The presence of Chinese vessels continues to be monitored in the West Philippine Sea, with at least 150 of them doing "fishing" operations.
This was disclosed during the House deliberations on the proposed P5.024 national budget for fiscal year 2022 by the National Security Council (NSC) through Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon, sponsor of its budget.
Biazon is also the vice chairman of the House committee on national defense and security.
It was Gabriela party-list Representative Arlene Brosas who inquired about the continued presence of the Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.
"Kinoconfirm po ng NSC na mayroon pa rin pong umaaligid na Chinese maritime vessels doing fishing operations, moving one spot to another, at 'yun nga po 'yung binabantayan din ng counterparts dito sa Philippine side kaya nakikita po natin 'yung challenge na ginagawa against these Chinese vessels," Biazon said.
Pressed by Brosas on the number of Chinese vessels, Biazon said: "About 150 vessels, estimated."
Brosas asked the sponsor what are the specifications of the Chinese vessels in the resource-rich region. Biazon responded that these vessels look like civilian vessels, however, they really have some "strategic" mission.
"Nag-range from 30-50 meter vessels. May malalaking bapor din. Ito range ng sizes ng vessels," Biazon said.
"Sa appearance nila mukhang civilian vessels kaya tinatawag na maritime militia. They look civilian but you know they have some strategic mission to do out there. Pero mukhang civilian," he said.
Meanwhile, Biazon refused to disclose the number of Philippine military vessels deployed in the area in the interest of national security.
In April, six vessels of the Chinese Navy, including at least three warships, were spotted in the West Philippine Sea by Philippine sovereignty patrols.
The presence of the Chinese Navy vessels were on top of the estimated 240 Chinese militia vessels scattered in the territorial waters off Kalayaan in Palawan and in the Philippines exclusive economic zone.—LDF, GMA News