CCG blocks, tails PH survey ship headed for Bajo de Masinloc

By GMA Integrated News

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel blocked and tailed the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) vessel BRP Hydrographer Ventura and the Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Gabriela Silang early Sunday morning as the Philippine vessels were sailing for the Bajo de Masinloc.

According to Mav Gonzales' 24 Oras Weekend report, the Philippine vessels were on their way to the Bajo de Masinloc, also known as the Scarborough Shoal, to conduct a hydrographic survey in the area.


Hydrographic surveys map the physical features of an underwater area.

However, the CCG vessel blocked the Philippine vessels 35 nautical miles from Luzon's coast - the limit of China's nine-dash line, but at a location within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

The vessels were halted for about eight hours, but the Philippine vessels eventually set sail for the Bajo de Masinloc at 10 a.m., with the CCG shadowing them.


"China’s clearly sending a message maybe in the wake of the other things that have been happening including this trilateral summit that China is being especially aggressive and making the point that it believes in this 9-dash claim," said international advocacy group SeaLight Director Ray Powell.

NAMRIA had announced that they would be taking a hydrographic survery near the shoal, and soon after two CCG and 10 Chinese maritime militia ships were seen at the Bajo de Masinloc.

"I wondered if it was part of a regular rotation, but it’s an unusual heavy rotation," said Powell.

The SeaLight director recounted that China had harassed Vietnam as the latter conducted a hydrographic survey in its EEZ, even allegedly attempting to cut the cables of Vietnamese equipment.

He thus suggested that the Philippines be on guard against any actions China would take against the hydrographic survey.

"If indeed China decides this hydrographic survey is a threat to their sovereign claims in the 9-dash line, they they could and they have shown in the past that the passage could get pretty aggressive with these things," warned Powell.

GMA Integrated News had sought comment from the PCG, NAMRIA, and China Embassy but they had yet to comment as of posting time. —with Michaela del Callar/DVM, GMA Integrated News