PCG monitors over 135 Chinese maritime militia ships in Julian Felipe Reef
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Sunday said it has monitored “more than 135” suspected Chinese maritime militia vessels (CMM) in Julian Felipe Reef, a substantial increase compared to the previous month.
PCG spokesperson to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) Commodore Jay Tarriela said this was based on the report of BRP Sindangan and BRP Cabra which conducted patrols in the immediate vicinity of the low-tide elevation on Saturday.
“No response was made to the radio challenges issued by the PCG to the CMM vessels which is now estimated to have grown to more than 135 vessels dispersed and scattered within Julian Felipe Reef,” Tarriela said in a statement.
Tarriela noted that there were only 111 CMM in the area of the sandbank last November 13.
Julian Felipe Reef is located 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza town in Palawan and is part of the Kalayaan Island Group in the WPS.
The CMM’s presence is in line with Beijing’s assertion of sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea — including the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the western section of Manila — but a 2016 ruling from an international tribunal effectively dismissed their claims.