Navy monitored increased Chinese vessels in WPS

SunStar Local News
SunStar Local News

THE Philippine Navy has monitored an increased number of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) over the past week.

In a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, AFP spokesperson Colonel Francel Margareth Padilla said from June 4 to 10, a total of 146 Chinese vessels were monitored in 11 features in the WPS which is within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Of the 146, 16 were Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels, 22 were ships of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) while 108 were Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels.

From May 28 to June 3, 125 Chinese vessels were monitored in the said areas in which nine were CCG, 11 PLAN and 105 CMM vessels.

Of the 22 PLAN warships monitored in the recent week, eight were in Ayungin Shoal, five in Lawak Island, four in Sabina Shoal, two in Panata Island and one each in the islands of Pag-asa, Kota and Likas.

Philippine Navy spokesperson Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said the increase of the number of Chinese vessels within the country’s EEZ may be attributed to the first ever military exercises of China's PLAN in Sabina Shoal from June 2 to 4.

Trinidad said China’s recent military exercises include the launching and recovery of aircraft and hovercrafts and landing craft air cushions.

While Trinidad maintained that China vessels’ presence in the WPS is “illegal” as he reiterated the Philippines’ sovereignty in the area, AFP chief of the Public Affairs Office (PAO) Colonel Xerxes Trinidad said the Philippine government is addressing such action in a diplomatic way in the bid to avoid any escalation of the current situation in the disputed territory.

“There are many ways of addressing this particular issues at hand on the West Philippine Sea, we have different tracks, but we don’t want to use on the military actions and these things are what the government is doing is more on the diplomatic track and these things are, all of these being reported, information are being reported and actions are being taken by the government,” said Colonel Trinidad.

Meanwhile, during the celebration of the Swedish National Day and reception for Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson last week, Secretary of National Defense Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. emphasized that tensions in the WPS and the larger South China Sea emanate solely from the so-called ten-dash illegally claimed by China as their territory.

“China wants us to go to the small details to forget the main message. The main message is: The ten-dash-line is the provocation. And everything flows from that. They have no business being anywhere in the West Philippine Sea and other areas where we have jurisdiction,” said Teodoro.

He noted that the narratives of China are being whittled down to the tactical level to distract the Filipino public and the international community from focusing on the root cause of the tensions in the WPS.

“They are trying to bait us by straying from the main points and dragging us into an action-drama debate, where we focus on minor details which stray us from the main message. Let’s stick to the message,” he added.

Teodoro said that efforts to manage the tensions in the WPS are continuously being undertaken by the government through the Department of Foreign Affairs.

However, he said that no discussions at the defense level are underway, and underscored that any agreement or talks should be open, rooted in international law, and uphold Philippine national interests.

“Kailangan open and transparent, (dahil) kailangan katanggap-tanggap (sa) mga Pilipino, makatarungan, ligal, at pabor sa interes ng Pilipinas. Kung hindi, itatakwil ito,” said Teodoro. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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