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Sunday, June 23, 2024

China sends largest Coast Guard ship near Panatag shoal

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A China Coast Guard Vessel known as “The Monster,” the largest coast guard ship in the world, conducted an “intrusive patrol” in Scarborough Shoal yesterday.

Ex-US Air Force official and maritime security expert Ray Powell said the 165-meter CCG ship — with bow number 5901– was spotted within Scarborough at 5:15 a.m. Friday along with a smaller CCG vessel with bow number 5203.

Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad confirmed the presence of the CCG vessel.

“Yes. It is 50 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc,” Trinidad said during the Philippine Navy’s anniversary at its headquarters in Manila.

“The actions, the response will be at the National Task Force-WPS level. It is a China Coast Guard ship. There will be appropriate response from the NTF, most likely the Philippine Coast Guard,” he added.

Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal, is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

“China conducts intrusive patrols deep within the EEZ of neighboring countries… to establish a continuous presence and gradually normalize Chinese jurisdiction over areas granted to its neighbors under international law,” Powell said.

Meanwhile, Speaker Martin Romualdez asserted that Filipinos should be allowed to fish in Scarborough Shoal without fear of being harassed or bullied by the Chinese as it is clearly within the country’s EEZ.

In a message to Zambales fishermen and local officials read by Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Romualdez called for unity in fighting for the rights of fishermen in the province and nearby Pangasinan to fish in their traditional fishing ground.

“You are not alone in facing China’s threats. Let’s be united and continue to fight for our right to fish in Bajo de Masinloc. We know that this is part of our territory and belongs to the Philippines,” the Speaker said.

Romualdez’s message was read during the hearing in Masinloc town of the House committee on national defense and security and the special committee on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on the alleged secret deal between former President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the WPS.

The leader of the 309-strong House of Representatives said Filipino fishermen are not alone in fighting for their right to their livelihood in Bajo de Masinloc.

Romualdez cited the support extended by the country’s allies and the resolute stance of President Marcos on the issue.

“Even the allies in the international community, are watching and with us in this fight. And above all, our beloved President Bongbong Marcos Jr. is behind you and will never leave you,” he said.

The Masinloc hearing was presided over by Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas, defense committee chairman, and Gonzales for the Special Committee on the West Philippine Sea.

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