AFP fears increased China harassment in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday is worried that China may further escalate its aggression and harassment within the West Philippine Sea following its recent collision with Philippine vessels.
AFP chief of staff Romeo Brawner Jr. made the pronouncement after Chinese vessels hit an AFP-contracted resupply boat and a Philippine Coast Guard ship in the West Philippine Sea on Sunday morning.
“Kasi nga nage-escalate na ito, ang unang kinakatakutan natin ‘yung talagang magbabangaan. Halos tayo ang umiiwas, we stopped our ships because they keep on conducting these dangerous maneuvers crossing the path of a vessel that’s moving forward. That’s very dangerous; dapat hindi ginagawa ‘yun,” said Brawner in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.
(Because it’s escalating, the first thing we fear is that ships will deliberately hit each other. We are the ones trying to avoid it. We stopped our ships because they kept on conducting these dangerous maneuvers, crossing the path of a vessel that was moving forward. That’s very dangerous and should not be done.)
“Bawal na bawal ‘yun sa maritime rules, so that’s why we’re worried na baka mag-escalate pa ito,” he added.
(It’s not allowed in the maritime rules, so that’s why we’re worried that it might escalate.)
But Brawner said that the AFP is ready to defend the country’s territory should China choose to intensify its harassment against Philippine vessels.
“Our take is that the actions of China are really illegal, aggressive, and very dangerous. We saw an escalation of these actions of China. Nababahala kami (we are worried), but as mentioned by Defense Sec. Gilbert Teodoro Jr., the AFP is willing to defend our territory,” said Brawner in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.
According to Brawner, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has already ordered the Philippine Coast Guard to conduct an investigation to be used as a basis for filing a protest before international regulatory bodies.
“The President gave that specific instruction to the coast guard to investigate, come up with a report, so that this can be used as a basis for our filing of a protest before international maritime regulatory bodies,” said Brawner.