Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday applauded the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for bravely driving out Chinese maritime militia vessels at the Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“I would like to applaud the PCG and BFAR for confronting the Chinese. Considering the escalating tensions in the WPS, I know it couldn’t have been easy to challenge China’s ships,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“This reassures me that indeed we have good officers on the ground and in the water, ready to do their duty,” she said.
Hontiveros said she hopes the PCG and the BFAR’s actions would inspire more authorities to do the same.
“Sana mas dumami pa ang mga pagkakataong ito. Kitang-kita natin na ang papalayas sa mga barko ng Tsina ay pwedeng gawin at dapat lang ulit-ulitin (I hope more opportunities like this arise. It clearly shows that driving away China’s vessels can really be done and should be done repeatedly),” she added.
According to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), the PCG and BFAR were conducting maritime patrols in Sabina Shoal, when they spotted the Chinese vessels moored in a linear formation.
The Philippine ship immediately radioed the other party and told the Chinese that their presence in the waters was illegal. The Chinese ships didn’t initially respond, but the Philippine vessels decided to approach them, which forced the Chinese vessels to leave the shoal.
The PCG spotted the Chinese vessels again when they returned to the area two days later, but they dispersed immediately upon their arrival.
“We have the absolute right to stand our ground, and shoo illegal vessels away,” the senator reiterated.
“The UNCLOS and our 2016 arbitral award at the Hague reaffirm our legitimate sovereign rights over the WPS. Tayo ang nasa tama, kaya tayo ang dapat maglakas-loob (We are on the right side, that’s why we must be brave),” the senator said.
“Let’s continue to support and applaud these actions of the PCG and BFAR. Our officers should know that we, Filipinos, will always stand by them. We know we own the West Philippine Sea; now it’s time we act like we do,” Hontiveros reiterated.