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PCG reports 8 Chinese vessels in Bajo de Masinloc

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) over the weekend said it monitored eight Chinese vessels that shadowed and engaged local vessels at the Bajo de Masinloc during a nine-day patrol in the area earlier this month.

In a statement released on his official X (formerly Twitter) account, Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Jay Tarriela said the BRP Teresa Magbanua (MRRV-9701)  monitored four Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels with bow numbers 3105, 3302, 3063, and 3064.




“These CCG vessels shadowed the PCG vessel on more than 40 occasions, with the closest distance being 176 meters from its side,” the statement read, adding that the CCG ships performed “dangerous and blocking maneuvers” against the BRP Teresa Magbanua four times.

Tarriela said the CCG vessels crossed the bow of the Teresa Magbanua twice, as it said it disregarded the “Convention of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea” anew.

“Additionally, the PCG vessels observed the presence of four Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels,” Tarriela said.

“Nevertheless, the PCG vessel professionally engaged both the CCG and CMM vessels through radio reiterating the clear and principled position of the Philippines in accordance with international law,” he added.

The incidents were reported as PCG deployed the BRP Teresa Magbanua on February 1 to ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen in the area, as ordered by CG Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan.

The PCG said it closely monitored and supported some 100 Filipino fishermen in 14 fishing boats in the area known as a traditional fishing ground for local fisherfolk, to whom the agency distributed food packs and groceries.

To recall, maritime officials of both China and the Philippines exchanged warnings over the entry of local fishermen in the southeast portion of the Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal last September, after Beijing installed a floating barrier in the area.

A number of countries — led by the United States, Australia, Japan, and Canada — in August last year already expressed support for Manila and criticized the CCG’s attacks against vessels of the PCG.

This comes as China has refused to acknowledge the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling that found invalidated its nine-dash line. Its government also earlier claimed that it will continue to adhere to what it described as a “friendly consultation” with the Philippines after several Chinese vessels have been found “swarming” areas in the West Philippine Sea.

Protecting Filipino fishermen

During the nine-day patrol, the Coast Guard engaged with Filipino fishermen in 14 fishing boats to inquire about their fishing efforts and distributed food packs and drinking water to support their basic needs during the prolonged operations in the BDM.

 The PCG said Filipino fishermen expressed their gratitude, emphasizing that the presence of its vessels bolsters their confidence to continue fishing in the disputed waters.

Gavan assured the public that they will remain steadfast in their commitment to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the Filipino nation.

"The Coast Guard's white ships will consistently ensure Filipino fishermen's safety and welfare," the PCG Commandant said.

"Every Coast Guardian will do more so that the best public service prevails in accordance with the President's vision and call for action towards 'Bagong Pilipinas' by ensuring food security, among others, being a fundamental element of the social chance to drive national development," Gavan concluded.

Previously, small fishermen were advised by the Defense Department not go to the area also known as Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippines Sea (WPS) alone.This after Filipino fishermen reported a harassment incident from the Chinese Coast Guard.—Jon Viktor Cabuenas/RF, GMA Integrated News