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West PH Sea Task Force to discuss presence of 100 China vessels –AFP

The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) will discuss possible responses to the more than 100 Chinese vessels spotted in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Andres Centino said Friday.

“The AFP is a part of the task force na nandyan din ang Coast Guard. These things will be discussed with NTF-WPS. Doon napag-uusapan ito on what respective roles ng iba-ibang agencies will perform,” he said in an ambush interview.

(The AFP is a part of the task force, which includes the Coast Guard. The NTF-WPS will discuss these matters. The task force will discuss the roles of the different agencies.)

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Friday that during maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea from April 18 to 24, Philippine vessels spotted more than 100 Chinese vessels.

Coast Guard spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela said these vessels were Chinese Maritime Militia vessels, a People's Liberation Army Navy corvette, and two China Coast Guard vessels.

“The PCG has already submitted a report to the NTF-WPS, highlighting the presence of a Chinese warship, the continued appearance of alleged CMM vessels within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone, as well as the aggressive actions of the CCG against PCG vessels,” he said.

GMA News Online had sought comment from the Chinese Embassy in Manila, but they had yet to respond as of posting time.

As to whether the AFP monitored the activity of Chinese vessels during the littoral live fire exercises of the Philippine and United States militaries in Zambales on Wednesday, Centino said they would obtain such information when the NTF-WPS discussed the matter.

“We can get that information kung nag-uusap na yung National Task Force. Meron naman tayong mechanism para malaman din natin from that task force, maibato rin sa atin sa AFP,” he said.

(We can get that information when the National Task Force discusses it. We have a mechanism for us to determine that in the task force. They will forward it to the AFP.)

In July 2016, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, based on a case filed by the Philippines, junked China's nine-dash line claim covering the entire South China Sea. The Philippines refers to its portions of the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea.

China has refused to acknowledge the ruling.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. reiteratrf that the Philippines would not give up an inch of its territory, including the West Philippine Sea, amid the reported aggressive Chinese behaviour in the area. — DVM, GMA Integrated News