China vessels near Pag-asa during PH Navy barracks groundbreaking

Chinese vessels near Pag-asa during PH Navy barracks groundbreaking

/ 02:50 PM May 16, 2024

Kalayaan Islands

PHOTO: / Charie Abarca

PAG-ASA ISLAND, West Philippine Sea — Twenty two Chinese vessels were seen loitering three to four nautical miles from Pag-asa Island during the groundbreaking ceremony of a Philippine Navy barracks and a Super Rural Health Unit here, a Philippine Coast Guard official said Thursday.

“There are 22 Chinese militia vessels [including] Chinese Coast Guard ships,” Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Ronnie Gavan said when he was briefing Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and other senators.


READ: Soon to rise: PH navy barracks, rural health center in Pag-asa Island 


Zubiri personally flew to Pag-asa Island in the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan for the groundbreaking ceremony.

He was joined by Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito, and Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

Zubiri said the establishment of these infrastructure projects is in line with the government’s bid to boost Filipino presence in the West Philippine Sea and prevent “illegal incursions of China.

In an ambush interview after the ceremony, Zubiri said it was the first time that he, as well as Senators Joel Villanueva and JV Ejercito, had seen how severe the situation really is on the ground.

“Iba yung nararamdaman namin kasi, di ba, sa Senado, nagsasalita ako sa podium, nagsasalita ako doon sa baba, nagbibigay ako ng privilege speech. Ngayon lang talaga namin nakita ni Sen. Joel at ni Sen. JV kung gaano pala kalala ang sitwasyon dito sa ground,” said Zubiri.


(We feel different because, right, in the Senate, I speak on the podium, I speak down there, I give a privilege speech. I, togethjer with Sen. Joel and Sen. JV saw how bad is the situation here on the ground.)

“Kita-kita po natin, ilang ibang barko ng China dyan at napakalapit na pala ng Subi Reef na in-occupy na nila at nilagyan po nila ng naval facilities. And pandigmaan, o. Facilities na pangdigmaan. So nakaka-alarma,” he added.

(We’ve seen it —  there are several other Chinese ships there and it turns out that the Subi Reef is very close, which they have already occupied and equipped with naval facilities, and facilities for war.  So it’s alarming.)

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Pag-asa is an island in the Kalayaan chain at least 285 nautical miles from Palawan.

The Philippines has long established military and civilian presence in the area.

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TAGS: China, Pag-asa Island, West Philippine Sea

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