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45 Chinese vessels spotted off Pag-asa Island, says Esperon

Forty-five Chinese maritime militia ships had been spotted in Philippine-held Pag-asa Island last week, the highest number so far this year, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Thursday.

Esperon said this was reported to him by the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea, which he chairs, during their meeting on Tuesday.

"[That's] record number for the year so very aggressive sila [they're very aggressive],” Esperon said.

Esperon said the average number of Chinese vessels spotted in the area was below 20.

"Some of them remain there, hindi sila umaalis diyan [they don't depart]. Maaring mabawasan. But last week umabot sila ng 45, masyadong marami [the number could decrease. But last week, it reached 45 and that's too many]," he said.

Asked if the government is considering filing democratic protest, Esperon said the Department of Foreign Affairs is doing so "on a daily basis."

"The Department of Foreign Affairs is filing a protest, basta Pag-asa Island, on a daily basis. Tuloy-tuloy ang protest diyan basta Pag-asa ang pinag-uusapan at saka ‘yung militarization nila," he said.

(DFA is filing daily protests since it's Pag-asa Island we’re talking about. Pag-asa Island and their militarization.)

On Thursday, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said two Philippine boats on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal were "blocked and water cannoned" by Chinese Coast Guard vessels.

Locsin said he has conveyed "in the strongest terms" to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian and his Chinese counterpart in Beijing the country's "outrage, condemnation and protest of the incident." --KBK, GMA News