MANILA, Jun 10, 2019, PhilStar. The Philippine Coast Guard spotted a Chinese navy warship, along with coast guard vessels and militia boats, in the vicinity of Scarborough or Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, reported the Philippine Star.
Parolo-class multirole response vessel BRP Malabrigo recently concluded a four-day patrol in the Scarborough Shoal, which locals also call Bajo de Masinloc.
PCG spokesman Captain Armand Balilo said two China Coast Guard ships, two militia boats and one naval ship were seen in the area.
Aside from the Chinese vessels, the PCG also saw Filipino fishing boats while patrolling Scarborough Shoal.
“Tatlong malalaking bangka ng mga Pilipino ang nakita ng mga tauhan ng PCG na natuwa naman sa kanilang presensya sa [Bajo de Masinloc],” Balilo said.
(PCG personnel saw three big Filipino boats, which were happy with their presence at Bajo de Masinloc.)
According to Balilo, there was no incident of harassment despite the presence of Chinese ships near the traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales.
“Maliban sa regular na pagtatanong sa PCG ng China Coast Guard sa kanilang presensya sa area, wala namang untoward incident sa loob ng apat na araw,” Balilo said.
(Aside from the regular questioning of the China Coast Guard on the presence of the PCG in the area, there was no untoward incident in the four days.)
Asked if the foreign vessels left the area when the PCG patrol ship arrived, Balilo said the Chinese vessels maintain a presence near the shoal.
In April, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippine government was taking legal action against Chinese nationals harvesting giant clams or “taklobo” in the Scarborough Shoal.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the continuous extraction of giant clams by Chinese nationals in the West Philippine Sea violate the country’s sovereignty.
“They are performing acts of ownership… If it’s our territory, therefore, it is an affront to our territory and to our sovereignty,” Panelo said in April.
With a report from Evelyn Macairan