How did she do it? The woman who made the Chinese ships go away
MANILA, Philippines — Lawyer and member of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Gretch Mary Acuario gave a detailed account of the events that transpired in their maritime operation that led to the shooing away of Chinese vessels in the Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
In particular, she talked about what her radio challenge did.
Acuario, in a Radyo Inquirer exclusive interview, said the BRP Cabra approached the group of foreign vessels to ask for certain information during a radio challenge, but the seven foreign ships eventually dispersed rather than answer.
“Nagko-conduct kami ng maritime patrol, nakita ng radar na may foreign vessel sa Sabina shoal, nilapitan namin, nagsimula naming i-challenge ‘yung unidentified foreign vessel,” she said in the interview.
(We were conducting maritime patrol when the radar detected foreign vessels in Sabina Shoal. We approached the unidentified foreign ship, which we then challenged.)
Sabina Shoal, the one closest to El Nido, is part of the BRP Cabra’s domain of patrol, according to Acuario.
“Unidentified foreign vessel at Sabina Shoal, this is Philippine Coast Guard, you are within the Philippine exclusive economic zone… You are requested to provide the following: name of vessel, intention, last and next port of call,” Acuario said in a pre-recorded message transmitted to the Chinese vessels.
But instead of giving the PCG’s a response, the Chinese vessels began to disperse before the Philippine ships -the BRP Cabra, and the BFAR vessels MCS-3002 and MCS-3004 – reached them.
“May nagtanggal ng angkla, kasi pito sila, nauna yung isa, tapos yang isa medyo mabagal, pero sunod sunod silang umalis,” she continued.
(There were seven [vessels], one lifted its anchor, another one backed off, although slowly, they eventually left one after another.)
The law graduate of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines said she feels honored to be part of the initiative to protect the country’s exclusive economic zone.
“Bilang isang uniformed personnel ng Philippine Coast Guard, masaya ako, na bilang isang babae, nagawa kong protektahan ang parte ng exclusive economic zone ng ating bansang Pilipinas,” she said.
(As uniformed personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard, I am glad that, as a woman, I was able to protect part of the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.)
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