Filtered By: Topstories

Fewer Chinese vessels in and around Pag-asa Island, Sabina Shoal –PCG

The number of suspected Chinese maritime militia vessels in and around Pag-asa Island and the Sabina Shoal has decreased, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Friday.

“The PCG noted a decrease in the number of suspected CMM vessels observed over Pag-asa – from forty-two (42) last week to fifteen (15) on 08 March 2023,” the PCG said in a statement.

“Over Sabina Shoal, the PCG monitored a decrease in the number of CMM vessels – seventeen (17) on 08 March 2023 from twenty-six (26) observed two weeks ago,” it added.

However, the PCG said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s Jiangdao Class warship and Chinese Coast Guard vessel 5203 were still in Pag-asa’s 12-nautical mile territorial sea.

At the Ayungin Shoal, the PCG said CCG vessel 5304 was still within six NMs from the Philippine Navy vessel BRP Sierra Madre.

On March 8, the PCG conducted a Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) flight over Pag-asa Island, Ayungin Shoal, and Sabina Shoal, where there were significant numbers of foreign-flagged vessels.

During the flight, the PCG said it received seven radio challenges from the CCG vessels: four challenges while over Pag-asa Island’s territorial sea; and three while over the vicinity of the Ayungin Shoal.

Meanwhile, the PCG said several Chinese maritime militia vessels were seen at around eight nautical miles from Pag-asa Island, which is inside the country’s exclusive economic zone.  

"We've already publicized the presence of these Chinese government vessels and Chinese maritime militia last weekend," said PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela in Chino Gaston’s report on "24 Oras."

"The only thing that changed…nabawasan ang bilang ng Chinese maritime militia, but for the Chinese government vessels, particularly China Coast Guard vessels and the PLA Navy vessel, until now there's still a presence in Pag-asa," he said.

(The only thing that changed is the number of Chinese maritime militia was reduced, but for the Chinese government vessels, particularly China Coast Guard vessels and PLA Navy vessel, until now there's still a presence in Pag-asa.)

Around 25 Chinese fishing vessels were also spotted at a sandbar on the island, according to the report. The ships still remain in the area despite the numerous diplomatic protests filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Other areas surveyed during the MDA were the Iroquois Reef, Lakandula Reef, Lawak Island, and Pugad Island, which are occupied by the Philippine military.

GMA Integrated News sought the Chinese Embassy’s comment but has yet to respond. However, a Reuters report said the Chinese foreign ministry insisted that China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea are "justified" and "normal." — with Sundy Locus/DVM/VBL, GMA Integrated News