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Philippine military to continue patrols in WPS after China’s laser use

The Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command (Wescom) on Wednesday said it would continue sovereignty and maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) even after a Chinese vessel recently pointed a military-grade laser at a Filipino ship in Ayungin Shoal.

"Even nung nangyari yung incident na ‘yun, yung AFP natin ay hindi naman po tumigil sa kanyang mandato na magpatrolya dun sa ating area sa WPS as part of AFP's mandate," Wescom spokesperson Commander Ariel Joseph Coloma told reporters.

(Even after the laser-pointing incident, the AFP did not stop its mandate to conduct patrols in the WPS.)

"So wala pong nagbago, tuloy pa rin po ang mandato ng ating AFP, tuloy pa rin po ang pagpapatrolya ng ating mga barko sa WPS," he added.

(So nothing has changed; the AFP will continue its mandate, and our ships will continue to patrol in the WPS.)

According to Coloma, Wescom will optimize the deployment of their assets and will just abide if there are additional missions given to them.

On February 6, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel pointed a military-grade laser against a Philippine Coast Guard vessel performing a resupply mission for Filipino troops stationed in Ayungin Shoal.

According to the PCG, the laser temporarily rendered the crew blind.

On Tuesday, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs filed a diplomatic protest against China over the incident.

On the same day, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to express his serious concern over the increasing frequency and intensity of China's actions against PCG personnel and Filipino fishermen.

Defending its coast guard's action, Beijing accused the PCG vessel of intruding into the waters off the Ren'ai Reef (Ayungin) "without Chinese permission." China virtually claims the South China Sea in its entirety. — VBL, GMA Integrated News