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China Coast Guard ships tail, surround PH vessels near Recto Bank

China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels on Thursday tailed and surrounded Philippine ships on the way to Recto Bank for fishing activities.

According to a GMA Integrated News Bulletin report on Saturday, two China ships first followed BRP Lapu-Lapu, which escorted Filipino fishermen traveling to the Recto Bank, which is located 80 nautical miles off Palawan.

CCG vessels meanwhile surrounded the Filipino fisherfolk’s boats, and allegedly performed dangerous maneuvers.

Despite this, Filipino fishermen successfully installed bamboo rafts used in fishing at the guyot.

GMA News Online contacted the Chinese Embassy to get their statement about the incident but has yet to receive a reply.

It can be recalled that in June 2019, Chinese fishing vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 rammed the Gem-Ver (Gem-Vir) which was stationed at Recto Bank.

The trawler then sailed away and abandoned 22 Filipino fishermen in the open sea for at least four hours before a passing Vietnam vessel rescued them.

The owner of the Chinese ship extended his apology to the affected fisherfolks through the Philippine Embassy in China.

China however said its vessel had not intended to leave the Filipinos but was forced to sail away for fear of being besieged by several other Filipino boats near the area—a claim belied by the fishermen.

Representatives from the Philippines and China met in 2021 to discuss compensation over the sinking of Gem-Vir 1, following damage sustained by the fishing vessel, loss of income, and mental anguish experienced by its owner and the crew members.

The Recto Bank, which is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is believed to contain around 165 million barrels of oil and 3.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. —Jamil Santos/KG, GMA Integrated News