BRP Andres Bonifacio monitored, tailed off Panganiban Reef in WPS
Four Chinese vessels tried to intercept a Philippine Navy warship near Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in the Spratly Islands on February 1, the Philippine Coast Guard said yesterday.
PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said the BRP Andres Bonifacio was conducting a patrol and search mission when it was “monitored and tailed” by Chinese Coast Guard vessels with bow numbers 5204 and 5304 and Chinese maritime militia boats Qiong Sansha Yu 0001 and Qiong Lin Yu 19002 near Panganiban Reef.
“The Chinese maritime militia ‘fishing vessels / boats’ even conducted an 4 chinA…intercept course towards the Philippine Navy warship,” Balilo said.
This is the second maritime incident involving Chinese ships in Philippine waters since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s state visit to Beijing last month where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to establish a joint direct communication mechanism to ease tensions in the South China Sea.
The first incident involved a Chinese Coast Guard vessel that allegedly shooed away a Filipino fishing boat in Ayungin Shoal.
In December, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against Beijing after members of the Chinese Coast Guard approached personnel of Naval Station Emilio Liwanag (NSEL) who went to the waters off Pag-asa Island to retrieve what turned out to be rocket wreckage from China
The Chinese vessel “blocked their pre-plotted course twice” before “forcefully” retrieving the object by cutting the towing line attached to the NSEL rubber boat.
In a 2016 arbitral ruling, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Beijing’s nine-dash line, a demarcation that covers almost 80 percent of the South China Sea, is illegal. China, however, continues to disregard the verdict.
Since 2022, the DFA has sent a total of 199 notes verbale and diplomatic protests to China, four of which were lodged this year and almost a third under the Marcos administration.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines expressed optimism on the agreement of the Philippines and the United States to designate four new sites in the country for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
“We look forward to work continuously with our allies to strengthen further our capability to save lives in times of natural disasters and defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the AFP said.
Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Saturday also allayed fears over the new EDCA sites, saying these facilities would not only boost the country’s security but also spur the economy.
“I must stress that EDCA and its implementation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program, or the PH-US alliance are directed to modernize our capabilities and collaboration to react to emergencies and protect our maritime and environmental interests.
Thus, these EDCA sites should not be a cause for concern for anyone since it could also spur economic investments, joint protection, and preservation of our maritime and natural resources,” he said.
He added that every country has the right to develop or improve its defense capabilities.
“At the outset, let me point out that defense capability building is within the sovereign right of every country, and in the pursuit of that right the DND has been and will always remain consistent in its position that all engagements with the US, as well as other foreign partners, must be conducted in accordance with the Philippine Constitution and other national laws,” he added.