PH prevents China’s alleged construction of 'artificial island' in WPS

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

THROUGH the government’s continuous effort, the Philippines has stopped China from continuing its alleged illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), particularly in the Escoda Shoal.

In a press forum on Saturday, May 11, 2024, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said China has been creating an “artificial island” in Escoda Shoal, which is just 75 nautical miles away from the coastline of Palawan.

“Ang ginagamit nga kasi nilang pantambak dito sa areas na ito ay mga corals. So, ibig sabihin, they have to kill all the corals as many as possible for them to be able to use that as a foundation for their island reclamation. Dito, kumbaga nagsisimula pa lang [on Escoda Shoal]. So, kung sasabihin natin itong pagda-dump ng coral na ginagawa nila sa Sandy Cay has allowed them to expand itong land area, surface area na ito as artificial island,” he said.

(The material they use for filling in these areas is actually corals. So, it means they have to kill as many corals as possible for them to be able to use that as a foundation for their island reclamation. Here, it's like they're just starting [on Escoda Shoal]. So, if we say that this coral dumping they're doing at Sandy Cay has allowed them to expand this land area, this surface area as an artificial island.)

“Natigil sila, basically dahil simula noong nandiyan tayo for 26 days wala naman na silang nagawang pagda-dump kung hindi nagdi-deploy na lang sila ng mga divers doing the measurement and all. Wala naman tayong nakita dito na actual na dina-dump na nila…Our mere presence has already deterred China in doing such illegal action,” he added.

(They stopped, basically because since we've been there for 26 days, they haven't done any dumping anymore; instead, they're just deploying divers to do measurements and all. We haven't seen any actual dumping activity from them here... Our mere presence has already deterred China from engaging in such illegal actions.)

Tarriela reiterated the significance of the PCG’s continuous monitoring in the area, which had prevented China’s activities in the area.

He said that they have monitored a total of 34 Chinese Maritime Militia Vessels on Sabina (Escoda) Shoal with the People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels and helicopters and four other China Coast Guard vessels.

Tarriela has reiterated its commitment to have a prolonged presence on Escoda Shoal for them to document China’s activities in the WPS.

He emphasized that the PCG has to work round the clock to stop China from its alarming activities. 

“The 244-meter vessels, BRP Cabra and BRP Malabrigo are also doing rotational deployment from Escoda Shola para talagang, we will be more aware kung ano ang activities ng Chinese Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia together with their Chinese Research Vessels and Marine Scientist na dine-deploy nila dito,” he said.

Tarriela said that they have deployed its BRP Teresa Magbanua, which is now on its 26th day on Escoda Shoal to ensure that China will not be able to resume its illegal activities in Philippine waters.

He said the PCG is hoping “to flex more muscles” in preventing the deployment of Chinese research vessels, Chinese maritime militia boats, and CCG ships on Philippine waters with the expected arrival of a 97-meter vessel from Japan. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)

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