Filtered By: Topstories

PCG sends more ships as Chinese vessels seen amid PH WPS civilian mission

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday deployed two additional ships to monitor the safety of the civilian mission to Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

This is following reports that around 30 Chinese vessels including a warship were spotted around Scarborough Shoal.

“We are also considering the possibility of deploying additional Philippine Coast Guard vessels ngayong umaga (this morning). So right now, we are still making preparations for the vessels that we are going to deploy,” PCG spokesperson for WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said in a press conference.

PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armando Balilo identified the additional ships as BRP Panglao and BRP Boracay.

“On the way na din sila. Last info ko, nasa Subic na (They are also on the way. Based on my last information, they are already in Subic). BRP Panglao and BRP Boracay,” he told reporters in a message.

“BRP Boracay is in Subic already. Padating na din si BRP Panglao (BRP Panglao is also on the way). These are 24-meter patrol boats. Fast and with excellent maneuverability,” he added.

Initially, the PCG deployed the 44-meter vessel BRP Bagacay and one aircraft in the area.

During the press conference, Tarriela was asked about the number of Chinese vessels currently monitored around Scarborough Shoal but he refused to answer the question.

GMA News Online has asked the Philippine Navy the same but the latter has yet to reply as of posting time.

Atin Ito Coalition’s 100-boat civilian mission to the WPS proceeded on Wednesday despite reports of an alleged “huge force” of Chinese vessels heading to Scarborough Shoal.

Former US Air Force official and ex-Defense Attaché Ray Powell said this will be the “largest blockade” in Scarborough Shoal he has seen.

"China is sending a huge force to blockade Scarborough Shoal ahead of the Atin Ito civilian convoy setting sail from the Philippines Tuesday. By this time tomorrow at least four coast guard and 26 large maritime militia ships on blockade (not counting 'dark' vessels),” he said on X (formerly Twitter)

“This will be by far the largest blockade I'll have ever tracked at Scarborough. China seems determined to aggressively enforce its claim over the shoal, of which it seized control from the Philippines in 2012 as summarized by AsiaMTI,” he added.

Atin Ito held its first civilian mission to WPS with 40 participating boats in 2023.

Scarborough Shoal is a place of tension between the Philippines and China, as Filipino frontliners were harassed and fishers were shooed away by China in the area.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion in annual ship commerce. Its territorial claims overlap with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Manila calls parts of the waters within its exclusive economic zone as West Philippine Sea.

In 2016, an international arbitration tribunal in the Hague ruled that China's claims over South China Sea has no legal basis, a decision Beijing does not recognize.—AOL, GMA Integrated News