PCG clarifies stand on Panganiban Reef incident

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) clarified its stand on the supposed interception of BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17) by four Chinese vessels while it was patrolling near Panganiban (Mischief) Reef in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) last week.

BRP Andres Bonifacio (File photo: BRP Andres Bonifacio FB)

Last week, the PCG said it was able to "confirm" an incident report that BRP Andres Bonifacio, a Philippine Navy offshore patrol vessel, was “monitored and tailed” by four Chinese vessels while patrolling near Panganiban Reef and circumnavigating Reed Bank.

"Upon verification, the PCG confirmed that the said incident report originated from a tweet of American defense and security expert, Mr. Ray Powell," the PCG said in a statement on Monday, Feb. 6.

Powell, head of Project Myoushu Team of Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation of Stanford University, earlier posted on his Twitter account a detailed report of the incident.

Powell, who specializes on the South China Sea (SCS) conflict, identified the involved Sino vessels as China Coast Guard (CCG) ships with bow numbers 5204 and 5304, and maritime militia boats Qiong Sansha Yu 0001 and Qiong Lin Yu 19002.

Since the PCG noted that the report they obtained did not directly come from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), it announced that the said incident report remains "unverified."

The Manila Bulletin contacted the AFP, the Philippine Navy, and the Western Command (WesCom), which is responsible for the military operations in the West Philippine Sea, to verify the incident.

AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said he has yet to read the official report of the military about the supposed interception while the Navy and WesCom have yet to respond.