Lorenzana downplays presence of Chinese warship near Scarborough
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has downplayed the reported presence of a Chinese navy ship near Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“We see US ships also. We see other ships passing through… They’ve always been there. But most ships there are not navy ships but coast guard. They also have large fishing vessels,” he told reporters on Monday.
A warship of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy was spotted within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal last week while the Philippine Coast Guard was on patrol. It was believed to be a Type 056A Jiangdao-class corvette based on its hull number, 504.
Two coast guard ships and two militia vessels of China were also sighted.
The shoal was a site of a standoff in 2012 between Philippine and Chinese government vessels. Since then, China maintained its presence there with its coast guard ships.
Scarborough Shoal is a common fishing ground located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Presence of Chinese militia vessels and coast guard ships around the shoal is common knowledge while appearances of navy ships there are not usually reported.
Lorenzana said even Philippine Navy ships go there, too.
“We also send our Navy ships in the West Philippine Sea. We have ships that patrol there – on the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal, Mischief Reef and Pag-asa Island. We send ships there,” he said. (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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