DND confirms report on expulsion of PH vessels by Chinese ships
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense on Monday confirmed the report that two Philippine ships were expelled by the Chinese Coast Guard from Ayungin Shoal in the Spratly group of islands.
“The Chinese coast guard ships blocked our two vessels which were enroute to Ayungin to reprovision,” DND spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez said in a text message to reporters.
He did not comment further on the issue, saying that a report will be given to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“The full report is being finalized and will be submitted to DFA,” he said.
Military officials also refused to comment.
Wire reports on Monday quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying that they spotted Philippine boats carrying construction materials and Philippine flags. The incident happened on Sunday.
Ayungin Shoal is 105 nautical miles from Rizal, Palawan, which is well within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
The Filipino presence in the area is located at BRP Sierra Madre, a ship that was purposely ran aground in May 1999. Several soldiers are assigned to the ship.
In January, the Chinese coast guard also used water cannons to drive away Filipino fishermen in Scarborough (Shoal), an area off Zambales that is also claimed by China but is also within the country’s EEZ.
The Philippines has filed a case before the United Nations permanent court of arbitration to rule on the territorial dispute.
The Philippine military also recently bolstered its external defense recently by putting Scarborough under the jurisdiction of Western Command based in Palawan. It was previously under the Northern Luzon Command based in Tarlac as the nearest landmass to the shoal is located in Zambales. The orders were signed last week.
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