China on Julian Felipe Reef: No Chinese militia, only fishing vessels

Marje Pelayo   •   March 23, 2021   •   697

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese Embassy in Manila has reacted to the statement of the Philippine government regarding the alleged presence of Chinese militia vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) in the West Philippine Sea.

Though China confirmed its presence in the area, the Embassy said that those are only fishing vessels taking shelter due to “rough sea condition.”

The Embassy also referred to the Julian Felipe Reef by its Chinese name, Niu’e Jiao which it insisted is part of China’s Nansha Qundao, and has long been a traditional fishing ground

“Recently, some Chinese fishing vessels take shelter near Niu’e Jiao due to rough sea conditions. It has been a normal practice for Chinese fishing vessels to take shelter under such circumstances,” the Chinese Embassy said in a statement.

“There is no Chinese maritime militia as alleged. Any speculation in such helps nothing but causes unnecessary irritation. It is hoped that the situation could be handled in an objective and rational manner,” it added.

Defense Secretary Delfin Loreanzana on Sunday (March 21) raised concern about the presence of 220 Chinese vessels at Julian Felipe Reef, an area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which prompted the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to file a diplomatic protest against China regarding the matter.

AFP chief Sobejana visits Pag-asa Island

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Cirilito Sobejana visited Pag-asa Island amid the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the AFP said Sobejana visited the island on Monday along with key officers from the General Headquarters and the Western Command.

The visit was in connection to the conversion of the island into a logistics hub that seeks to sustain the Philippine government forces deployed in the area.

The trip also aims to uplift the morale and welfare of troops securing Pag-asa Island and other communities within the Kalayaan Island Group.

“The AFP will strike a balance between mission accomplishments and looking after the morale and welfare of our men and women,” Sobejana said, addressing the military force manning the Naval Station Emilio Liwanag on Pag-asa Island.

The AFP chief also stressed the importance of the troop’s role in protecting the citizens of Kalayaan Group of Islands and their livelihood as well as guarding the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea.

The AFP said it recently deployed additional air and naval assets under the operational control of Western Command (WESCOM) in Palawan to support the National Task Force-WPS together with the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in performing sovereignty patrols in the area.

Prior to visiting Pag-asa Island, the Chief of Staff met with the troops of the 3rd Marine Brigade to extend the AFP’s commendation for keeping the Province of Palawan peaceful, stable and progressive.

He also lauded the unit’s contributions in security operations, civil military operations, stakeholder’s engagement and on COVID-19 mitigation which are vital in the over-all mission accomplishment of WESCOM and the AFP as a whole.

The AFP Chief also visited BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS35), one of the many ships currently deployed at WESCOM while docked at Puerto Princesa City Pier, to commend the their efforts in protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country particularly in the West Philippine Sea.

He likewise lauded the officers and personnel for their role in the successful rescue of 31 fishermen of MB Pauline 2 at Nares Bank, WPS on May 24.

 

31 Filipino fishermen rescued after boat sinks in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   May 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Thirty-one Filipino fishermen were rescued at the vicinity of Nares Bank in the West Philippine Sea after their boat sank on Sunday, authorities said.

In a new release on Tuesday, the Naval Forces West (NFW) said the rescue operation was conducted after it received a radio signal from a fishing boat called FB Española reporting about FB Pauline 2.

The FB Pauline 2 suffered a hull derangement. It also had a hole on its freeboard since and began to take in seawater.

 “Immediately, the boat captain of FB Pauline 2, identified as Mr Placido Asusina, called for distress signal to alert any boats in the vicinity. This distress signal was received by FB Española which in turn relayed the information to NFW before proceeding to FB Pauline 2 to render assistance,” the NFW said.

The naval force said it sent the BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS35) to render assistance to the distressed fishing boat.

The fishermen were received on aboard PS35 on May 24 where they were “medically checked, given food and given accommodation.”

Duterte may meet with ex-PH presidents to discuss West Philippine Sea row – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is looking to meet with his predecessors to discuss China’s continued presence in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement when asked for a comment on former military chief and Senator Rodolfo Biazon’s proposal to convene the National Security Council (NSC) over the Duterte administration’s “confusing” stand on Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing.

Roque insisted that there is nothing confusing with President Duterte’s stand on the sea row as his policy towards China is to temporarily set aside disagreements on some issues and push through with other matters, such as commerce and investments, that will benefit the country.

He also reiterated that the present administration will never give away a territory and will stand firm and protect the national sovereignty and sovereign rights.

But instead of convening the NSC, Roque said the president is mulling over meeting with former presidents and other personalities to tackle the issue.

“Nabanggit po yan sa akin ng presidente. Ang problema dun sa National Security Council, wala naman pong nare-resolve dun sa mga pagkakataon na naka-attend siya so kung kinakailangan, iniisip niya na imbitahin ang mga dating presidente, ilang mga personalidad na magkaroon ng isang pagpupulong to discuss the issue,” he said.

“Pero ang tingin po niya, may mga karanasan po siya sa National Security Council, eh walang resolusyon na nangyayari so parang bakit pa, eh pwede naman po yang through informal consultations,” he added.

The NSC is an advisory body on the proper coordination and integration of plans and policies affecting national security and foreign policy. It is composed of concerned officials of the Cabinet and Congress as members, as well as other government officials and relevant personalities who may be invited by the president.

Roque said there is no date yet for the possible meeting as this is still in the process of consideration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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