The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Sunday allayed concerns regarding the situation in the West Philippine Sea, saying that the tension there with Chinese vessels is not heightened.
In a Super Radyo dzBB interview, PCG Vice Admiral Joseph Coyme said they are currently monitoring several alleged Chinese militia vessels that are anchored in claimed maritime areas, but said these vessels do not affect their operations that much.
“Ang kagandahan ngayon, sa presensiya ng Philippine Coast Guard at law enforcement agencies ay hindi natin ine-escalate ang tension,” he explained.
(The good thing now is we are not escalating the tension, through the presence of the Philippine Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies.)
“Diplomatic ang approach natin. We are not yet in the situation na talagang heightened ‘yung tensions over the area.. With our ships there, we are normally conducting our law enforcement functions pertaining to maritime safety at hindi provocative in nature,” he added.
(Our approach is diplomatic. We are not yet in the situation where the tensions over the area are really heightened.. With our ships there, we are normally conducting our law enforcement functions pertaining to maritime safety and they are not provocative in nature.)
The PCG recently placed five buoys to mark Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea, saying that it would serve as a sovereign marker and as a navigational safety for ships.
Asked about China’s radio challenge to a Coast Guard aircraft that was on its way to Pagasa Island near Subi Reef, which China occupies, Coyme said that such challenges are normal.
“Hindi maiiwasan na dadaan tayo sa lugar nila kaya normal ang mga radio challenge… In-inform din natin sila na ito ay part ng maritime domain awareness flight natin and we’re conducting normal law enforcement patrols along the area,” he said.
(It is inevitable that we would pass through their area so the radio challenges are normal... We also informed them that this is part of our maritime domain awareness flight and we're conducting normal law enforcement patrols along the area.)
Earlier this month, the PCG also released the video of its personnel challenging via radio the Chinese militia vessels spotted in Sabina Shoal, which is within the Philippines exclusive economic zone.
The Chinese vessels dispersed after the radio challenge, according to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon. —KG, GMA Integrated News