CAMP AQUINO, Philippines – China won’t be allowed to conquer Scarborough Shoal, a military official said Tuesday, reiterating their mission “to take care of our territory and sovereignty”.
“We will not allow them. They cannot conquer Scarborough Shoal,” Lieutenant General Anthony Alcantara told reporters in a press briefing in response to a query about the possibility of a Chinese takeover of the disputed shoal.
“Our mission is clear: Take care of our territory and sovereignty, ” he said.
Alcantara described the situation in the area as “stable” with “no untoward incident.”
He added that the Naval Forces in Northern Luzon were constantly in touch with the Philippine Coast Guard.
“Our Navy is always on standby to help, ” he said.
Alcantara also said that the Chinese were not telling the truth when it claimed Monday through reports that their vessels Yuzheng 310 and maritime surveillance ship 84 have left the shoal.
“We are not doubting their claims. We are telling them they are not telling the truth,” he said.
As of 8p.m., Monday, the BRP Pampanga replaced the BRP Edsa, which stocked up on provisions. A Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources maritime control ship, MCS 3006, was also anchored within the shoal, which he said could be conducting inventory.
Meanwhile, two small Chinese fishing boats were sighted inside the shoal, and another three outside. Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (Yuzheng) vessel 310, a Chinese fishing gunboat, was located eight nautical miles southeast of BRP Pampanga, and the Chinese maritime surveillance ship (CMS) 71 was within 12 nautical miles also southeast of the BRP Pampanga, said Alcantara.
The CMS 75 and 84 were not sighted, and have probably refuelled, he said.
The vessels “are bent to stay within the shoal,” as they have been taking turns and changing their positions from time to time, he added.
All Chinese water vessels were within the 200 nautical mile-exclusive economic zone, he said.
Despite signifying the military’s preparedness for any situation that may arise, Alcantara echoed the government’s desire to settle the dispute by diplomatic means.
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” he told reporters.