PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Debold Sinas said they will deploy their maritime assets to assist the Philippine Navy in conducting sovereignty patrolling in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“Ang PNP po ay laging sumusuporta sa AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) sa lahat ng threat sa ating bansa. Ang unang nakatalaga dyan ay ang Philippine Navy. Kami naman ay nakahandang sumuporta sa kanila para sa po pangalagaan ang karapatan natin sa West Philippine Sea,“ he said on Monday, April 19.
He said the police will also help in intelligence gathering in the coastal area and monitor those who approach the islands.
However, PNP Maritime Group Chief John Mitchell Jamili said the PNP’s capability to conduct patrolling is limited.
He said they have small boats that are capable of patrolling only to up to 24 nautical miles from the archipelagic baselines.
“So hanggang doon lang po kami sa ngayon because we have no bigger boats," he said.
"But the PNP Maritime Group is very willing to patrol up to the exclusive economic zone that is why we have this wish list to have bigger ships and also kung tutulong yung PNP Maritime Group kung kinakailangan," he added.
Jamili said they are conducting regular patrolling in the coastal areas in Ilocos, Central Luzon and Mimaropa, which face the WPS.
He said they were also studying the deployment of a special operations unit on Pagasa Island.
He said they were in close coordination with the National Task Force West Philippine Sea, led by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
Earlier, the AFP monitored at least 200 Chinese vessels moored at the Julian Felipe Reef, which is located 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.
It is within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf (CS), over which the country enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources.
The Chinese government has refused to pull out the vessels from the area despite the numerous diplomatic protests lodged by the Department of Foreign Affairs. (SunStar Philippines)