Coast Guard to beef up security in Spratlys


MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard is beefing up security in the disputed waters around the country by deploying three vessels to conduct round-the-clock monitoring and security.

The PCG has allocated the bulk of the P1.6 billion it received from the Malampaya natural gas project for major repair work on three of its old vessels, which would then be deployed to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), said PCG commandant Rear Adm. Edmund Tan.

Tan is the new Coast Guard chief, having taken over from retired Adm. Ramon Liwag last Tuesday.

Tan said the deployment of the three vessels, some of which had sustained damage from accidents, strengthen security in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) where the disputed Spratly island group is located.

China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines have overlapping claims on the potentially oil- and gas-rich islets and atolls.

“Instead of using the money to buy new ships, which could take up to two years, we will just repair our existing vessels,” according to Tan.

Only one vessel, the BRP Edsa, is now conducting patrols in the West Philippine Sea.

Repairs still have to be done on the BRP Batangas, whose propeller was reportedly damaged after running aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea, said Tan.

The BRP San Juan also needed some overhauling, he said.

Tan said the cost to refurbish the two vessels may reach some P78 million. The PCG will also have to spend about P35 million more to revamp a search-and-rescue vessel, he said.

He said that once the three vessels are repaired, the Coast Guard would be able to provide security on a 24-hour basis on the territories claimed by the Philippines.

President Aquino earlier ordered the Coast Guard to position ships in the West Philippine Sea after a survey ship hired by the Department of Energy was reportedly harassed by two Chinese Navy gunboats off the Spratlys.

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  • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      Agree. Cutter with on-board anti-ship/submarine chopper. Now we’re talking defense!

  • Ben

    The Jian-10 (J-10) is a multirole, all-weather fighter aircraft designed for both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The aircraft was designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (611 Institute) and built by the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of AVIC. The aircraft has been operational with the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) since 2003. The J-10 is available in the single-seat fighter variant J-10 and two-seater fighter-trainer variant J-10S. A further improved single-seat fighter variant designated J-10B reportedly made its maiden flight in February 2009.Programme
    The programme to develop the J-10, known as Project 8610, started in the mid-1980s. The aircraft was originally intended to be a high-performance air-superiority fighter to counter the then emerging fourth-generation fighters such as F-16 and MiG-29, but the end of the Cold War and changing requirements shifted the development towards a multirole fighter with both air-to-air and ground attack mission capabilities.
    The development of the J-10 was reportedly assisted by Israel, which provided the technologies of its cancelled IAI Lavi lightweight fighter including the aerodynamic design and the software for the “fly-by-wire” flight control system. The development programme faced enormous difficulty in the early 1990s when China faced arms embargo imposed by the United States and European Union. In the mid-1990s Russian became involved in the J-10 development and supplied its AL-31F turbofan jet engine to power the aircraft.

    An attack helicopters will be no match to this J-10 that China will deploy in the Spratly although can be part of the coast guard cutters to widen it`s capability. We need a combination of F-16 and F18 hornets to try to deal the menace of that problem. Plus they have submarines secretly plying the deep part of West Philippines sea from Palawan side to any ships in there can be threatened by it…and we need an anti submarine or submarines too. We need the AN/TPS-59(V)3 defense radar it is a highly mobile, all solid-state, three-dimensional (3-D) radar for long-range aircraft and tactical ballistic missile detection and tracking which can aid our jet fighters and missile frigates in has a 500 mile wide sweep We need a fixed and mobile missile defense shield to rain down on any frigates that will attempt to attack our forces. This can be a deterrent, but it`s better to bring in the US to keep the Chinese to think twice…it is just waiting to take the right move and will again go into creeping invasion.

  • Ben

    Historical facts….(Mischief invasion of China started in 1995 and now aiming in our reeds bank)

    President Joseph Estrada announced on November 10,1998,that he
    was sending additional forces into the area to monitor the Chinese activities
    and instructed the Navy and the Air Force “to block exit and entry points” to
    the disputed area without getting involved in a military confrontation.

    A spokesman of the Philippines Government announced on November
    30,1998, that their Navy had seized six Chinese fishing boats in Filipino waters
    and arrested 20 fishermen. Manila rejected a Chinese demand for the release of
    the fishermen and said they would be prosecuted for trespassing into Filipino
    territorial waters.

    During a tour of the East Asian region in the beginning of
    December,1998, Admiral Joseph Prueher, Commander of the US forces in the
    Pacific, said that the US was closely watching the developments and added: ” If
    nations feel like they have a strong card to play, they will try to do it, when
    they think they can get away with it. This is perhaps what China is trying to do
    in the Mischief Reef.”

    Apart from this, in contrast to 1995, there has hardly been any
    strong reaction either from the US or from other ASEAN countries preoccupied
    with their economic and social problems. Dr. Mahatir Mohammad of Malaysia has
    apparently not forgiven Estrada for sympathising with Anwar Ibrahim, his sacked
    Deputy Prime Minister. China had contributed to Thailand’s rescue package in
    1997 and hence Bangkok was not in a position to react. Anyhow, even in 1995,
    Bangkok avoided strong reactions.

    Singapore seems to be skeptical of the allegations of Manila
    and declines to see Beijing’s fresh activity as encouraged by the preoccupation
    of the ASEAN countries with their economic woes.

    Thus, the only important foreign personality who has strongly
    come out against Beijing so far is US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a senior
    member of the House International Relations Committee. After flying over the
    area in a Filipino aircraft on December 10,1998, he described the fresh Chinese
    activities in the Reef as alarming and sinister and strongly condemned the
    silence of the Clinton Administration on the development.

    Latest reports indicate that China has gone back on its 1995
    promise to discuss the dispute with all the ASEAN claimants and has reverted to
    its original stand that it would discuss only bilaterally with each claimant. It
    seems to be even dragging its feet on its 1995 proposals for joint development
    of the disputed islands.

    Expressing the frustration of the Manila authorities, Blas
    Ople, Chairman of the Philippines Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an
    interview to the “Newsweek” of December 21,1998: ” Great powers, very often,
    probe for soft spots. They determine whether they can make some gains at very
    little or negligible cost. Throughout history, that is how great powers have
    conducted themselves. China is no different.”

    Now if we are not going to do what we must do who is the gullible here and a perpetual loser?

  • Ben

    There were two significant developments in July,1995. Before
    the meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) at Brunei, Ali Alatas, the
    Indonesian Foreign Minister, visited Beijing on July 19,1995, to discuss the
    South China Sea developments. This was the first visit by an Indonesian Foreign
    Minister to China since the two countries restored diplomatic relations in 1990

    Towards the end of July,1995, a contingent of US navy commandos
    arrived at Puerto Princesa, the headquarters of the Philippines Western Military
    Command, to train Filipino troops stationed in the Spratly group islands under
    its control. A joint study was undertaken of Manila’s defence requirements in
    the light of the new situation in the South China Sea and as to what extent the
    US could meet them.

    A proposal was mooted by a group of Filipino Congressmen,
    including Jose de Venecia, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, that the
    Philippines should again invite US naval ships in the region to come to the
    Subic Bay for repairs and re-fitting. The Ramos Government did not, however,
    accept it.

    COOPERATION BETWEEN THE US and the Philippines SEEMED TO HAVE HAD A SOBERING EFFECT ON Beijing. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers, who had gathered at Brunei for
    the ARF meeting from July 28 to August 1,1995, were pleasantly surprised to find
    Qian Qichen giving indications of less rigidity.

    Firstly, he expressed China’s readiness to discuss the issue
    with all the ASEAN claimants , thereby reversing its previous insistence that it
    would discuss this only bilaterally with each claimant.

    Secondly, while reiterating China’s claim of “indisputable
    sovereignty” over the Spratlys, he indicated that China would be willing to
    recognise international laws, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the
    Seas, as a basis for settling the differences. At the same time, he opposed the
    involvement of non-ASEAN outside powers in the negotiations.

    Commenting on this, Domingo Siazon, the then Filipino Foreign
    Secretary, said: ” I would not call it a concession. However, I think China is
    now having a position of opening the door to a possible political compromise.
    That was not the case when claims were based only on historical rights.”

    Ali Alatas said: ” On the basis of the UN Law of the Seas,
    there is no more guessing how you draw lines for an Exclusive Economic Zone or a
    continental shelf. There are no more disputes over what are considered the lines
    of an archipelago state.”

    A US State Department spokesman said: ” The tone of China
    referring to international law and the Law of the Seas gives greater possibility
    of trying to find a diplomatic solution, even though China hasn’t changed its
    fundamental position on its sovereignty claims.”

    In a further positive development, Manila and Beijing announced
    on August 10,1995, that they had reached a “Code of Conduct” for resolving their
    dispute peacefully. They stated that while joint review committees would be set
    up under the Code to review possibilities for joint development and management
    of the islands, China would be setting up a panel to review “legal rights” to
    the islands.

    However, China declined to sign the protocol to the Agreement
    on the Creation of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in South-East Asia which was
    concluded at the ASEAN summit at Bangkok in the second week of December,1995..

    Its objection was to the inclusion of the Exclusive Economic
    Zone/continental shelf claim areas of the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and
    Vietnam in the Treaty area. China thereby made it apparent that its agreement to
    discuss the Spratly issue with the ASEAN members on the basis of the Law of the
    Seas and other international laws should not lead to an assumption that it had
    accepted or would accept the claims of these four ASEAN countries.

    The matter rested there during 1996 and 1997, without any
    significant forward movement in resolving the dispute. In 1996, China was
    preoccupied with its confrontation with Taiwan and its sequel. This and the
    various controversies regarding possible flow of Chinese political contributions
    during the US elections of 1996 revived the distrust of China in the US.

    However, since the middle of 1997, China has managed to improve
    its image in the US and Clinton’s visit to China last year marked the implicit
    recognition by the Clinton administration of China’s political primacy in this
    region. The weakening of the economies of the ASEAN countries and its impact on
    their military capability and political stability , the emergence of signs of
    differences amongst the ASEAN member-countries on various issues and the
    preoccupation of the usually China-hostile conservative members of the US
    Congress with the impeachment of Clinton constitute the setting against which
    one has to see the renewed activism of China in the South China Sea since

    In the last week of October,1998, a Filipino military
    surveillance aircraft reportedly noticed many Chinese ships, including four
    naval supply ships, off the Mischief Reef , with about 100 workers busy
    constructing what the Filipino authorities suspected was a landing strip for

    Rejecting Manila’s allegations of construction of new military
    structures on the Reef, Beijing claimed that it was only replacing the temporary
    shelters for fishermen constructed in 1995 with permanent ones.

  • Ben

    The Mischief Reef, which the Philippines calls the Panganiban
    Reef, is 150 miles West of Palawan, the Philippines’ nearest land mass, and 620
    miles South-East of China. The Pag-asa island of the Spratly group, which is
    under the administrative control of the Philippines since 1973, is 135 kms (83.88 miles) to
    the North-West of the Reef.

    On February 15,1995, Ramos ordered the strengthening of
    Filipino military forces in the remaining areas claimed by his country and the
    intensification of aerial surveillance over the area.

    After a meeting of his National Security Council the same day,
    he said that the Philippines would exhaust all diplomatic options and added: ”
    As part of this diplomatic effort, the Philippines has put forward as an interim
    measure the concept of stewardship. Each disputed island should be placed under
    the stewardship, meaning the primary responsibility, of the claimant country
    closest to it geographically, on the understanding that the steward country
    accommodates the other claimants’ need for shelter, anchorage and other peaceful

    In an apparent attempt to project the issue as a multilateral
    problem, Ramos said that “the issue is of concern to all countries interested in
    the long-term stability of the South China Sea and the East Asian region as a

    According to him, by building military structures on the Reef,
    China had unilaterally changed the status quo and confronted the Philippines
    with a fait accompli. He also revealed that in response to Manila’s protest,
    Beijing had claimed that the occupation of the Reef was ” ordered by low-level
    functionaries acting without the knowledge and consent of the Chinese

    This gave rise to speculation that the PLA (Navy) might have
    acted on its own without the knowledge of the political leadership, but this was
    proved wrong by a statement of Qian Qichen, the then Chinese Foreign Minister,
    on March 10,1995, which clearly showed that the political leadership approved of
    the occupation.

    He said: ” Ours is not a military activity and will pose no
    threat to other countries. Chinese fishermen have been traditionally fishing in
    the region and shelters have been built to protect them. China has had
    sovereignty over the islands since ancient times and there were no disputes.
    Just in the late 70s, some countries made claims over the islands. China has
    shown restraint and is willing to develop the region in a co-operative way,
    setting aside disputes.”

    A team of Filipino officials led by Rodolfo Severino, Under
    Secretary in the Foreign Office, was sent by Ramos to Beijing for talks with the
    Chinese authorities on March 22,1995. On his way, Severino went to Singapore for
    meeting his ASEAN counterparts. They issued a joint statement expressing ” their
    serious concern over recent developments which affect peace and stability in the
    South China Sea.”

    The Beijing talks failed. Severino said after the talks: ” The
    Chinese continued to maintain their position that these structures are wind
    shelters for their fishermen. We believe that this has set back the moves
    towards confidence-building since 1990.”

    Commenting on the failure, Ramos said on March 23,1995: ” They
    (the Chinese) are saying , we are a big country and if we are trying to send
    some additional ships, that is for our coastal defence. But, maybe, that should
    not just be taken as a simple explanation. Maybe, it could be used for South
    China Sea intervention. But, I hope they stay within what they are telling us.”

    After the failure of the Beijing talks, the Filipino Navy
    removed the markers on a number of reefs, atolls and other features in the
    Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone which had been put up by the Chinese though
    they had not set up any physical presence on those features. It also started
    intercepting Chinese fishing boats intruding into the Filipino zone.

    Reacting to this, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Office,
    warned at Beijing:

    ” This action will do no good to a settlement of the issue nor
    will it harm China’s sovereignty.” In an interview to the “Far Eastern Economic
    Review” of April 6,1995, Ramos said: ” I will not hesitate to take the necessary
    protective measures for our territory.”

    At the instance of China, a meeting of Chinese and ASEAN
    Foreign Office officials was held at Hangzhou in China on April 3-4, 1995, to
    discuss measures for reducing tension. Rodolfo Severino, who represented the
    Philippines, claimed after the meeting that Chinese officials said for the first
    time that they were planning to modify their claims to ownership , not of the
    entire sea, but only of the islands, reefs and other physical features in the

    He then pointed out: ” Under international law, a country can
    claim sovereignty over the waters 200 kms from its land. The territorial claims
    around one reef, for instance, would still overlap with our territorial boundary
    and some of them would come very, very close to Palawan.”

    Qian Qichen, who was in Europe at the time of the Hangzhou
    meeting, told pressmen at Bratislava on April 4,1995, that China wanted to end
    the controversy and called for common use of the islands. He added: ” China’s
    standpoint is that we want to abandon the controversy and manage the islands
    together. China has built on these islands civilian structures with no military
    character at all. They were built only to accommodate the work of our

    Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore was in China on a
    bilateral visit in May,1995. According to the Singapore authorities, he had
    raised with the then Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng on May 11,1995, the question
    of sovereignty and navigation in the South China Sea and they had discussed
    whether sovereignty covered not only sea lanes, but also the air space.

    While the Singapore officials did not indicate what was the
    Chinese response, the Xinhua news agency quoted Shen, a spokesman of the Chinese
    Foreign Ministry,as stating as follows on May 18,1995: ” On the issue of the
    navigation rights in the South China Sea, the Chinese Government holds a
    definite and clear-cut position, namely, China’s action to safeguard its
    sovereignty over the Nansha (Spratly) Islands and the relevant maritime rights
    and interests will not affect navigation through and the freedom and safety of
    flights over the international waterway of the South China Sea in keeping with
    the international laws.”

    There was fresh tension on May 13,1995, when the Filipino
    Defence Ministry officials arranged a visit to the vicinity of the Mischief Reef
    on board a naval vessel for a party of 38 local and foreign journalists. The aim
    was to show them that contrary to its stand that there were no military
    structures on the Reef, China was actually constructing military-like
    fortifications on the Reef similar to those which it had constructed in the past
    on the Johnson and Subi reefs.

    When the Filipino naval ship was 10 kms from the Mischief Reef,
    two Chinese frigates from the direction of the Johnson Reef , about 100 kms to
    the West, blocked its passage.

  • Belinda Belle

    I was really interested in your historical facts Mr. Ben. I read them all. But I chuckled when I reached the ending haha. :-)
    To borrow “pinoyjunk”s line: “Now we’re talking defense!”

  • Faith Diao

    Now that the Philippines has China’s attention, it should capitalize on it. Pnoy should go to Bejing and negotiate more expansive trade relations with China…they have the world’s bank vault. He should also go to Washington and ask for guns and bullets and ask the Americans to be our security guards while we are making money with the Chinese. We should follow Singapore. That’s how they did it.The Philippines should not just tow Washington’s lines and wishes and be their pawns. Remember the U.S. plays both sides of the game. They talk to  the Philippines but they talk more with China.Romantic chivalrous diplomacy is long gone. There is no such thing as lasting loyalty. There is only lasting self-interest.The Philippines should take sides of course. It can take side with the U.S. in some cases and at some times. It can also sides with China in some cases and at some times. But always stay on the side of the Philippines.

  • Anne Torre

    Just how silly this administration is. Abad said that the P1.6 Billion from Malampaya will be used for power development. Now the navy said they will share from the money and it will go to the major repair work of its vintage vessels. Then the money goes to corruption.

    The president really is diffident. He has no decision of his own. The power development now means nothing to him. But the Naval power makes such attraction to his attention. Is naval power equivalent to electrical energy? What a fund juggling for fun in Malacanang. Crass.

  • joboni96

    madami ring na decommissiong
    japanese patrol boats

    removal of guns
    can qualify these
    for transfer to the ph coast guard

  • Anonymous

    mga tanond na lang ilagay nyo dyan kesa mga sundalo. pag nilusob kayo ng mga singkit, maski buong sandatahang lakas ng pinas pa ilagay dyan, tyak na ubos.

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