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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Two Chinese warships spotted off Balabac island

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Two Chinese warships were spotted on Wednesday sailing through the waters off Balabac island, at the southern tip of Palawan, where one of the four Philippine bases for use by US forces under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is located.

Roy Reyes, an entrepreneur and former barangay captain of Barangay Bancalaan in this coastal municipality, said on Thursday that he witnessed the two vessels prominently flying the Chinese flag.

He took video footage of one of the warships from onboard his private boat, while sailing in the general area of Mangsee and Onok Islands, which are under Balabac’s jurisdiction.

Based on the video, the Chinese vessel appeared to be a 590-foot “Dalian” class guided-missile destroyer.

Reyes noted that Balabac residents are not new to seeing international cargo vessels passing through this area, but this is the first time the locals have seen Chinese naval ships so deep inside Philippine territory.

The Philippine military started building a three-kilometer runway and a pier in the island even before it was designated an EDCA site.

Then armed forces chief Gen. Andres Centino told journalists on a visit to Balabac last year that the island is a “strategic maritime route that would allow the military to monitor all passing ships.”

Balabac is 140 nautical miles from Mischief reef which the Chinese have turned into a fortress.

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