200 CHINESE MILITIA VESSELS SPOTTED IN WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Gov’t vows to protect sovereign rights

By Gigie Arcilla

The Philippine government on Sunday vowed to remain steadfast in its duty to protect Philippine sovereignty and its sovereign rights in the country’s maritime domain amid reports on the presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea.  

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), in a statement, said the Philippines shall adhere to its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“The government shall continue to peacefully and proactively pursue its initiatives on environmental protection, food security, and freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea as part of its overall national security policy,” the NTF-WPS statement read.

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The NTF-WPS expressed concern about the confirmed report from the Philippine Coast Guard that around 22 Chinese Fishing Vessels (CFVs), believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were sighted moored in line formation at the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) on March 7.

“The NTF-WPS notes this circumstance as a concern due to the possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment, as well as risks to the safety of navigation,” it said.

The Reef is a large boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef at the northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs (Union Reefs), located approximately 175 Nautical Miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.

It is within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS), over which the country enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources which encompass both living resources, such as fish, and non-living resources such as oil and natural gas.

The statement added that despite clear weather at the time, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef showed no actual fishing activities and had their full white lights turned on during night time. (PNA)

National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea statement on the presence of China’s maritime militias at the West Philippine Sea | PTV News

Statement of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea on the presence of China’s maritime militias at the West Philippine Sea

“Around 220 Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) Vessels are massed at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine SeaThe National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) received a confirmed report from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that around two hundred twenty (220) Chinese Fishing Vessels (CFVs), believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were sighted moored in line formation at the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) on March 7, 2021.The Reef is a large boomerang shaped shallow coral reef at the northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs (Union Reefs), located approximately 175 Nautical Miles west of Bataraza, Palawan. It is within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS), over which the country enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources which encompass both living resources, such as fish, and non-living resources such as oil and natural gas.Despite clear weather at the time, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef showed no actual fishing activities and had their full white lights turned on during night time. The NTF-WPS notes this circumstance as a concern due to the possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment, as well as risks to safety of navigation.The Government will continue to monitor the situation as it remains steadfast in its duty to protect Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights in the country’s maritime domain. In consonance with the Philippine commitment to the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Government shall continue to peacefully and proactively pursue its initiatives on environmental protection, food security and freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea as part of its overall national security policy.”

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