China vessels trash PH protests, won’t leave Julian Felipe Reef
MANILA, Philippines—China vessels continued to ignore Philippine government protests and refused to leave Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef in the West Philippine Sea, an area that is inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, at an online forum on Wednesday (April 21), said at least 10 China vessels are still anchored in the area, citing reports from a Philippine maritime patrol on Tuesday (April 20).
More than 200 Chinese militia vessels had been spotted at the boomerang-shaped reef in the Philippines’ EEZ in early March.
The Philippines filed diplomatic protests and increased its patrols in response to the swarming. Most of the China ships had left the reef but they remained scattered across the Philippines’ EEZ.
The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea, an interagency body chaired by Esperon and getting guidance from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, said it was “exhausting all means possible to protect our territory and EEZ.”
China said that the militia vessels were taking shelter from bad weather, but Philippine officials said this was implausible.
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