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PCG: Chinese militia, coastguard ships still in Ayungin, Sabina Shoals

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Saturday that Chinese maritime militia and coastguard vessels spotted earlier in Ayungin and Sabina Shoals were still inside the country’s maritime domain.

At a news forum in Quezon City, PCG adviser for maritime security Commodore Jay Tarriela said the Coast Guard has already submitted the incident report on the recently conducted maritime domain awareness (MDA) flight.

During the MDA flight, the PCG spotted 30 Chinese maritime militia vessels and one Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel in Ayungin Shoal and Sabina Shoal.

The PCG also released a video where a challenge from China can be heard telling the PCG to leave the area even though it is within the exclusive economic zone EEZ) of the Philippines.

“What I can confirm is there’s still Chinese maritime militia and China Coast Guard vessels in Ayungin and Sabina Shoals,” Tarriela said.

The presence of Chinese vessels within the country’s territorial waters has  continued despite a diplomatic protest lodged by the Department of Foreign Affairs against China following the laser-pointing incident at the BRP Malapascua near the Ayungin Shoal.

Some members of the PCG had suffered temporary blindness due to the laser.

Asked if the PCG will recommend another diplomatic protest on the continued presence of Chinese vessels, Tarriela said “the decision ... is up to the DFA.”

“We can just submit facts and [pieces of] evidence and it’s always up to them how they’re going to utilize those documents and proof that we submitted,” he said.

Defending its coast guard’s action, Beijing accused the PCG vessel of intruding the waters off the Ren’ai Reef “without Chinese permission.”

China claims the South China Sea nearly in its entirety. —LBG, GMA Integrated News