The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has intensified its maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea to assert the country’s sovereignty after its successful enforcement of maritime laws against militia-manned Chinese ships last month.
PCG Spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo assured the public that they will continuously deploy planes and ships to conduct sovereignty patrols in the disputed areas with the guidance of the national security council.
“Ginawa lang naman natin ang tungkulin na ito hindi lang naman ito ngayon dati rin naman may mga hinuhuli tayong poachers lalo na kung nasa ating territorial sea at magpapatuloy po ang ating deploymen sa area at hangga’t may makikita po kami ay sasabihan po namin na kung ito ay nasa exclusive economic zone (We did our duty, not only that now, but also before we also used to catch poachers, especially if they are in our territorial sea. Our deployment will continue in the area and as long as we find Chinese vessels, we will tell them that they are in our exclusive economic zone),” Balilo said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo on Thursday, May 6.
“Hindi kami kaagaad nagdedeploy sapagkat tinitignan namin at sinasalangalang yung mga maaring mangyari at ito ay kelangan ng isang desisyon na ginagawa ng Task Force (We do not deploy immediately because we look and consider the possibilities and this also requires the decision made by the Task Force)” he added.
According to Balilo, the Coast Guard ships that include the BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) and the BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403); and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) ships BRP Francisco Dagohoy (MMOV-5002), MCS-3001, MCS-3002, and MCS-3008 are currently deployed in the West Philippine Sea.
The BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), which safely arrived in Manila on Monday, May 3, is already planning to go back in the West Philippine Sea next week.
The PCG spokesperson said that aside from the maritime patrol in the sea, the country’s national security forces are also conducting maritime patrol on air in the disputed areas.
“Yung ating mga eroplano nagdedeploy din po kami nag-aalternate po kasama po ng eroplano ng Philippine Navy at tsaka ng Philippine Air Force may mga schedule kami na sinusunod dyan at nagpapalitan po para sa pagmomonitor na tinatawag po nating maritime patrol on air (We also deploy our planes and alternate duty with the Philippine Navy and also the Philippine Air Force. We have schedules that are followed there and we exchange for monitoring which we call maritime patrol on air” he said.
“Sa ngayon wala pa kaming report na natatanggap pero nandoon pa rin an gating mga tauhan at nandoon pa rin yung mga barko ng PCG at BFAR siguro yung data ng mga swarming kasi hindi lang kami ang nagmomonitor dyan pati yung kasamahan natin sa Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command, ang may talagang data na kung ilan pa ang mga barkong na nandoon at also yung National Task Force of the West Philippine Sea (So far we have not received any report but our personnel are still there and the PCG and BFAR ships are still there, maybe the data of the swarming Chinese vessels were not the only coming from us because there were also others monitoring the area including the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command, which has the actual data on how many more ships are there and also the National Task Force of the West Philippine Sea),” Balilo added.
The PCG ships drove away seven foreign ships believed to be manned by Chinese militias from the Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea conducting maritime patrol together with ships from the BFAR last April 27
The PCG, in cooperation with the BFAR, said they are preparing for the second leg of the comprehensive maritime exercise.