Marcos: Presence of Chinese warships in West Philippine Sea ‘worrisome’

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said that it has recorded the highest number of Chinese vessels deployed to impede the regular rotation and resupply (RoRe) mission at Ayungin Shoal over the weekend.

FILE PHOTO: The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea says the water cannon attack by the China Coast Guard (CCG) on Saturday, December 9, 2023, caused “significant damage” to the Datu Bankaw (left). It condemned the CCG’s action as “not as only illegal but also inhumane” for it was directed at a humanitarian mission. —Screen grab from Philippine Coast Guard video

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, on Wednesday called the presence of Chinese warships in the West Philippine Sea worrisome, but the government will continue to defend maritime security.

The signal of Philippine vessels was allegedly jammed by China when they traveled in the West Philippine Sea. Philippine Coast Guard Spokesperson Jay Tarriela also reported the presence of a Chinese aircraft in Bajo de Masinloc.

“We just defend our maritime territory. We continue to support all of our fisherfolk who make their living from these fishing grounds,” said Marcos in an ambush interview before his flight to Australia.

Marcos said that the government will continue doing its job to help the fisherfolk.

“It’s worrisome because there are two elements to that. One, dati Coast Guard lang ng China ang gumagalaw doon sa area natin, ngayon may Navy na, sumama pa mga fishing boat. So nagbabago ang sitwasyon,” said Marcos.

(It’s worrisome because there are two elements to that. One, before it was just the Chinese Coast Guard moving in our area, now it is the Navy with the fishing boats. So the situation is changing.)

“That’s the basic principle there is that the fishers must be allowed to fish in their traditional fishing grounds which belong in the maritime territory of the Philippines,” said Marcos.

Beijing’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea increased during the time of Marcos, with Philippine vessels being rammed by Chinese boats and the PCG being hit with a water cannon.

Filipino fisherfolk have also accused China of poisoning Bajo de Masinloc with cyanide.

Marcos earlier vowed not to surrender a single inch of territory to foreign forces.