China Coast Guard fires water cannons at PH vessels near Scarborough Shoal

By GMA Integrated News

China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels on Tuesday fired water cannons at Philippine civilian vessels en route to Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) for a supply mission, GMA Integrated News' Raffy Tima reported on Super Radyo dzBB.

Tima, who was covering the mission, said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel, BRP Bagacay, sustained damage in its canopy and steel railing due to the water cannon attack by two large CCG vessels.

A Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel, BRP Bankaw, which was also part of the mission, was also water cannoned by Chinese vessels, according to Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesperson for WPS, in a statement.

"This damage serves as evidence of the forceful water pressure used by the China coast guard in their harassment of the Philippine vessels," Tarriela said.

The incident happened at 9:53 a.m., according to the PCG. The Philippine vessels were on their way to Scarborough Shoal — also called Bajo de Masinloc — to bring food and fuel to fishermen in the area.

“At approximately 09:53, when the BFAR vessel was about 12 nautical miles from BDM [Bajo de Masinloc], CCG-3305 utilized its water cannon, directly hitting the starboard astern of the BFAR vessel,” Tarriela said.

“When the PCG vessel was approximately 1000 yards east-southeast of BDM, CCG-3105 and CCG-5303 employed their jet stream water cannons, targeting the PCG vessel from both sides, resulting in damage to the railing and canopy,” he added.

'Dangerous maneuvers'

Aside from this, the Philippine vessels also encountered dangerous maneuvers and obstruction from four CCG vessels and six Chinese maritime militia vessels, according to Tarriela.


“Despite the harassment and provocative actions of the Chinese Coast Guard, both the PCG and BFAR vessels stood their ground and continued their maritime patrol,” Tarriela said.

The PCG official also said the CCG again installed a 380-meter floating barrier that covers the entire entrance of the Scarborough Shoal that restricts access to the area.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media reported that the CCG has "expelled" a PCG ship and another vessel from waters adjacent to the Scarborough Shoal.

The CCG did not provide additional information, according to the report from Chinese state media broadcaster CCTV, but the incident was the latest to occur between the two countries at the disputed atoll in the South China Sea.

A separate Reuters report quoted Chinese ministry spokesperson Lin Jin as telling the Philippines to stop provocations and to not challenge China's determination to safeguard its "sovereignty."

"Philippine ships intruded without China's permission and the Chinese coast guard took necessary measures to drive them away," said Lin Jian, who was addressing a query on the matter.

Beijing and Manila have repeatedly clashed in recent months at the submerged reef, which Philippines says is in its exclusive economic zone but which China also claims as its own.

Both have also traded accusations over aggressive maneuvers there and the Philippines recently summoned a Chinese diplomat over the actions.

China and Philippines previously said they would seek better communications and management around skirmishes in the vast South China Sea, but tensions have increased recently, especially after Philippines forged stronger diplomatic and military ties with the United States.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 said China's claims had no legal basis. —with Joviland Rita and Reuters/KBK/RSJ, GMA Integrated News