China maintains 3 ships in Scarborough Shoal – sourceBy Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines – Though President Benigno Aquino III declared in his State of the Nation Address Monday that it was “not right to give what is rightfully ours,” China has maintained ships in Scarborough Shoal, a disputed territory between the Philippines and China.
As of latest reports, a security source said that China has three government vessels in Scarborough Shoal, an area claimed by the two countries, located 120 nautical miles off Zambales, well within the exclusive economic zone.
The ships are two from China Marine Surveillance ships and one from the Fisheries and Law Enforcement Command, the source said.
The Philippines, as ordered by Aquino, withdrew its government ships on June 16 reportedly due to bad weather.
Meanwhile, the military spokesman said it “will not waiver” to its commitment to uphold integrity and sovereignty of national territory.”
“We’re gearing up the Armed Forces of the Philippines for modernization and equipment [upgrade] to acquire that minimum defense posture… we have to protect what’s ours…we will lose more of our valuable natural resources if we won’t act,” Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr told reporters.
He said the military is aiming to achieve a “minimum credible posture” in five years.
He also said they were upgrading two coast watch stations to improve their monitoring capabilities.
Also Tuesday, the Philippine military said it will focus on “coordination and monitoring” with government agencies while an action has yet to be made on the report that China has intentions to build a military garrison on the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“Like in this case the coordination with Philippine Coast Guard will be enhanced,” military spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr told reporters.
“We will do our job to implement and execute any directive handed down,” he added.
Beijing has announced it will establish a military garrison on a group of disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which will most likely provoke further tensions with its neighbors.
The troops will operate from Sansha in the Paracel Islands, one of two archipelagos in the West Philippine Sea that are claimed by both China and Vietnam.
The garrison, approved by the Central Military Commission, “will be responsible for the Sansha area national defense mobilization and reserve forces activities”, the defense ministry said on its website.
The ministry did not say when the garrison would be established, but the move to station troops on the Paracels is likely to provoke Hanoi’s ire.
Disputes have flared in recent weeks, with Vietnam and the Philippines criticizing what they call Chinese encroachment.
In June, the state-backed China National Offshore Oil Corporation announced it was welcoming bids to explore oil blocks in the disputed waters, a week after Vietnam adopted a law placing the Spratlys under its sovereignty.
A July 13 meeting of the Association of Southeast Nations broke up without a joint statement for the first time in 45 years because members could not agree on how to refer to China’s behavior in the disputed waters.
The countries are drafting a “code of conduct” to try to overcome the rift.