Not only PH authorities: China's 'provocative acts' extend to ordinary Filipino fishermen — admiral

Published October 24, 2021, 4:20 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

China’s apparent “provocative acts” in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) recently have been done not only to Philippine authorities patrolling the area but also to ordinary Filipino fishermen, a military commander revealed on Sunday, Oct. 24.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) drives away seven more foreign fishing vessels believed to be manned by Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen off Marie Louise Bank in El Nido, Palawan on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the PCG)

Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez, commander of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea’s (NTF-WPS) Area Task Force West (ATF-West), said Chinese military vessels have also issued “illegal” radio challenges to Filipino fishermen who cast their nets in the disputed waters.

“Hindi ‘yon specific lang sa ating mangingisda, pati sa ating mga barko at saka eroplano. China-challenge nila (That is not only specifically done to our fishermen but also to our ships and aircraft. They challenge us),” said Enriquez, who is also the commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Command (WesCom) in Palawan, over radio dzBB.

Last Oct. 20, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it has monitored over 200 radio challenges, sounding of sirens, and blowing of horns that were illegally conducted by Chinese government vessels against Philippine authorities who were patrolling the WPS and other territories and maritime zones.

In September, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordered the filing of a diplomatic protest against the alleged illegal movements of some 150 Chinese vessels around Iroquois Reef, which is located near the Recto (Reed) Bank in WPS.

Enriquez clarified that the provocative acts of China has been on-going for a long time already as he said they usually forward incidents of Beijing’s provocations to DFA for the conduct of necessary actions such as the filing of diplomatic protests.

The admiral further stated that the AFP continues to uphold the sovereignty of the Philippines over the WPS despite the persistent provocations of China.

He said the AFP along with other relevant government agencies like Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and Philippine National Police’s Maritime Group (PNP-MG) has been patrolling WPS.

He insisted that the military does not recognize the claims of China in the tension-filled waters.

“Alam naman natin na hindi natin kinikilala ‘yon dahil dati ay mga low tide elevation naman ‘yon at pinalaki lang nila. Ang ginagawa natin tuluy-tuloy lang tayo at sa ating trabaho na pinapatrolyahan natin ang mga karagatan natin (We all know that we don’t recognize their [claims] because these are just low tide elevations that they reclaimed. What we are doing is we continue to do our job by patrolling our seas),” Enriquez said.

“Hindi natin kinikilala ang kanilang soberenya doon sa mga lugar na iyon kundi atin ito (We don’t recognize their sovereignty over the area because it is ours),” he added.

China’s recent provocations against the Philippines in the WPS happened after months of impasse over the two countries’ territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Back in March, the DFA protested the presence of over 200 Chinese vessels near Julian Felipe Reef in the WPS. After the protest, the foreign vessels left the area but the NTF-WPS said they only transferred to other parts of the WPS only to come back after some time.