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PCG 'confronts' Chinese vessel in West Philippine Sea

The Philippine Coast Guard reported Sunday “a close distance maneuvering” incident involving Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on March 2, during a maritime patrol operation.

CCG's vessel (3305) was moving approximately 21 yards towards BRP Malabrigo (MRRV-4402) in the waters of Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal) during the incident, the PCG said.

BRP Malabrigo's maneuvering space was constrained by the CCG vessel's action, which was a violation of the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

According to the PCG Commandant CG Admiral Artemio Abu, it was the fourth reported close distance maneuvering incident involving CCG vessels in Bajo de Masinloc vicinity.

“The behavior of the involved CCG vessels increased the risk of collision with four of our capital ships. Hence, we immediately coordinated with the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to address this issue through rules-based and peaceful approaches,” Abu said.

On May 19, 2021, PCG-manned BFAR vessel MCS-3005 reported the first incident of close distance maneuvering involving CCG vessel 3301.

The second and the third incidents involved two CCG vessels (3301 and 3103) that conducted close distance maneuvering with BRP Capones (MRRV-4404) and BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) respectively, during the PCG’s maritime capability enhancement exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc on June 1 and 2, 2021.

“We are fully aware of dangerous situations at sea, but these will not stop our deployment of assets and personnel in Bajo de Masinloc, Philippine Rise, and other parts of the country’s exclusive economic zones (EEZ),” Abu said.

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade has directed the PCG to continue upholding its mission of promoting the safety of life and property at sea and enforcing all applicable laws within the Philippine waters. —LBG, GMA News