PCG vows to ‘drive away’ Chinese militia vessels from Iroquois Reef, Sabina Shoal
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard will intensify patrols to “drive away” the suspected Chinese maritime militia vessels spotted off the Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal within the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
PCG spokesperson for WPS affairs Commodore Jay Tarriela made the statement amid worries that the Chinese maritime militias may constitute a prelude to China’s illegal takeover of the area.
“I would like to assure you that the Philippine Coast Guard will also take measures to deploy our vessels in order to drive away the Chinese Maritime Militia from that area,” Tarriela told reporters in an interview.
A total of 48 Chinese fishing vessels were recently spotted in Iroquois Reef, as reported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s Western Command on its latest air patrol conducted last June 30.
The AFP also found Chinese maritime assets near Sabina Shoal, specifically three Chinese Coast Guard ships and two People’s Liberation Army-Navy vessels.
Tarriela previously said that the presence of the Chinese maritime militias may be a prelude to China’s illegal occupation of the area.
China claims almost all of the areas in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, through its nine-dash line.
But the Philippines challenged China’s claim before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which later invalidated China’s claim.