The Philippine Navy said China is the one crossing the line in the West Philippine Sea amid tensions in the area.
Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. cited the recent radio challenge made by a Chinese vessel in the area of Pag-asa Island.
“I believed the scenario happened in the vicinity of Pag-asa Island and it’s obvious who is crossing the boundary,” Adaci said in an interview with ANC’s “Headstart.”
The Philippine Coast Guard recently installed five navigational buoys or sovereign markers in “critical areas” of the West Philippine Sea.
The buoys, installed near Patag Island, Balagtas Reef, Kota Island, Panata Island and Juan Felipe Reef carry the Philippine flag and signify the country’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the country’s exclusive economic zone, the PCG said.
The move also highlights the country’s unwavering resolve to protect its maritime borders and resources and contribute to the safety of maritime trade, the Coast Guard said.
For his part, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Monday commended the PCG for installing the buoys.
“The Coast Guard should install more buoys in the entire breadth of the WPS, from the northern part of the country in the Ilocos region to the south in the Palawan area, because that is the extent of Philippine territorial waters China is claiming,” he said.
He said the markers “should serve as a warning to the Chinese and other foreign powers that those are a demarcation of our 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under international law.”
“China should leave that area. They have no business occupying certain islets and sea features there,” he added.
Rodriguez said the Coast Guard should also place buoys near Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, which is about 120 miles from Zambales and Pangasinan and a traditional fishing ground for Filipino fishermen from the two provinces.
“That is clearly part of our EEZ, and yet China is occupying it. The Chinese Coast Guard routinely harasses our fishermen there,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy announced that two of its ships, the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) and BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), participated in the seagoing phase of the second ASEAN Multilateral Naval Exercise last May 13 to 14.
Navy spokesperson Capt. Benjo Negranza said the maneuvers took place near Grande Island, Zambales, and Lubang Island, Bataan.
Nine ships from participating ASEAN navies joined the seagoing phase of the AMNEX, he added.
“The two-day phase was composed of exercises and maneuvers designed to enhance interoperability and maritime responsiveness, improve synchronization and communication, and develop mutual trust and understanding among participants in the conduct of maritime operations and humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” Negranza said.
In April, more than 100 Chinese vessels were seen lingering near the West Philippine Sea and the PCG reported provocative tactics by the ships, including a Chinese coast guard ship that sailed into the path of a PCG vessel, almost causing a collision.
In July 2016, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s expansive nine-dash claims covering the entire South China Sea and recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the area within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
Beijing ignored the international ruling and deployed hundreds of militia vessels in the disputed areas, including those belonging to the Philippines.