Marcos says situation in WPS ‘worrisome’

MANILA. In this file photo, BRP Malapascua monitored 18 Chinese maritime militia vessels anchored off Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, said the Philippine Coast Guard.
MANILA. In this file photo, BRP Malapascua monitored 18 Chinese maritime militia vessels anchored off Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, said the Philippine Coast Guard.Photo from PCG

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, that the prevailing situation in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is “worrisome.”

In an interview with reporters before his departure for Australia, Marcos maintained that the Philippine government will continue defending the country’s maritime territory.

“It's worrisome because there are two elements to that: one is that the — dati Coast Guard lang ng China ang gumagalaw doon sa area natin. Ngayon, may Navy na, sumama pa mga fishing boat (before only China's Coast Guard was moving in our area. Now, there is a Navy, even fishing boats have joined),” he said.

“So, nagbabago ang sitwasyon, but -- well, maliwanag naman para sa atin, we don't really -- we just watch, of course, what everybody is doing, but really for us, patuloy pa rin natin, we just defend our maritime territory,” he added.

He said the government will also continue to extend assistance to the Filipino fishermen whose livelihood depends on the fishing ground in the disputed territory.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, the Philippine Navy confirmed reports of China’s increased interference in its electronic communication capabilities in the WPS, including jamming cell phone signals, which usually happens during rotation and resupply missions.

Navy spokesperson for WPS Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said such activity by China has been going on for the past three to four years or “maybe earlier” although it is not significant impact in their operations.

Trinidad said Chinese vessels continue to increase their number and loiter in the WPS, which the Philippine government maintained to be within its exclusive economic zone.

China refused to recognize the arbitral tribunal decision that invalidates its claims of almost the entire WPS. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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