NTF-WPS: Over 200 Chinese vessels still in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2021   •   410

MANILA, Philippines — An estimated 240 Chinese vessels continue to linger in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) reported.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the NTF-WPS denounced the continuous swarming in the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia which are claimed by Chinese authorities to be ordinary fishing vessels.

The NTF-WPS said that its sovereignty patrols conducted on April 11 observed an estimated 240 Chinese vessels in the Philippines’ territorial waters.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (WesCom) reported the presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels in the territorial waters of the Municipality of Kalayaan, Province of Palawan, and the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

The AFP-WesCom said that the Chinese vessels were found in the following areas:

  • 136 vessels at Burgos (Gaven) Reef
  • 9 vessels at Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun)
  • 65 at Chigua (McKennan) Reef
  • 6 at Panganiban (Mischief) Reef
  • 3 at Zamora (Subi) Reef
  • 4 at the Pagasa (Thitu) Islands
  • 1 at Likas (West York) Island
  • 5 ay Kota (Loaita) Island
    11 at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal

“These 240 CMM vessels, now dispersed at the Pagkakaisa (Union) Banks and Pagasa Islands are about 60 meters in length. A minimum estimate that each can catch one ton of fish amounts to a conservative total of 240,000 kilos of fish illegally taken from Philippine waters every single day that the massed Chinese fishing vessels remain in the West Philippine Sea,” the NTF-WPS said.

“These acts fall under illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing,” it added.

The task force also said that an earlier patrol conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard observed Chinese poachers collecting giant clams in the vicinity of the Pagasa Islands. The poachers quickly departed when approached by the Philippine Coast Guard.

“This act is a blatant violation of Philippine fisheries and wildlife laws, and the Convention International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” the NTF-WPS said.

Also spotted during the sovereignty patrol were the following People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels – two Houbei class missile warships at Panganiban Reef, one Corvette class warship at Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, and one Navy Tugboat at Zamora Reef. Further, two CCG vessels were seen in the territorial sea of the Pagasa Islands.

Additional monitoring by the AFP reported two PLAN, three Chinese Coast Guard, and 10 maritime militia vessels at Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough) Shoal. All these warships of the PLA Navy contribute to the militarization of the area.

The NTF-WPS said the combined presence of PLAN warships, CCG, and CMM in the Municipality of Kalayaan and the Philippine EEZ is “prejudicial to the peace and security of the region.”

“The continuous swarming of Chinese vessels poses a threat to the safety of navigation, safety of life at sea, and impedes the exclusive right of Filipinos to benefit from the marine wealth in the EEZ,” it said.

“The Philippine government reiterates its demand upon China to withdraw all its vessels from the Municipality of Kalayaan and the Philippine EEZ,” it added.

The NTF-WPS further called on China to respect Philippine sovereignty.

“In keeping with its role as a development partner, China should take the Philippine representations seriously and respect Philippine sovereignty, rights, and interests in consonance with the further strengthening of Philippine-China bilateral relations,” it said.

The NTF-WPS’ intensified maritime operations in the West Philippine Sea follow the recent escalation of disputes over the resource-rich waters in March after the Philippine military spotted more than 200 Chinese boats at the Julian Felipe Reef.

China claimed that the area is part of its traditional fishing ground and that the vessels there were not maritime militia vessels but fishing boats that were only seeking temporary shelter due to rough sea conditions.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said it has summoned Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian to explain the lingering presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA has repeatedly fired off diplomatic protest and called for the immediate withdrawal of the vessels.

DTI: Halos 200-libong manggagawa, balik-trabaho sa ilalim ng GCQ

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Maaari nang makabalik sa trabaho ang nasa 200-libong empleyado matapos na ibalik sa general community quarantine “with heightened restrictions” ang National Capital Region (NCR) at mga karatig-lalawigan.

Ayon kay Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, magiging daan ang paglipat sa GCQ ng NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, at Laguna – tinatawag na NCR Plus – upang mapababa ang bilang ng mga nawalan ng trabaho noong kasagsagan ng enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“As we further open the economy, we are expecting to bring back 200,000 to 300,000 jobs to lessen the number workers displaced since the start of the ECQ,” ani Lopez.

Noong nasa ilalim ng ECQ ang NCR Plus, umabot sa 1.5 milyon ang bilang ng mga Pilipino nawalan ng trabaho dahil sa coronavirus pandemic.

Nabawasan ito at naging isang milyon noong ipinatupad ang modified ECQ.

Ayon kay Lopez, sa ngayon ay aabot pa sa 700-libong manggagawa ang hindi pa rin nakakabalik sa trabaho dahil sa limitadong operasyon ng ilang establisimyento gaya ng mga restaurant, at barbershop. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

PH records 6,784 new COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’s total tally of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases has climbed to 1,131,467 on Friday after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 6,784 additional infections.

In its latest bulletin, the DOH said the number of active cases in the country is at 58,986.

Of these cases, 93.5 percent are mild, 2.3 percent are asymptomatic, 1.8 percent are severe and 1.3 percent are in critical condition.

The DOH noted that five laboratories have failed to submit data on time.

The DOH also reported 2,972 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 1,053,523.

The death toll rose to 18,958 with 137 new fatalities.

IATF allows TESDA to hold in-person assessments for household service workers in MECQ areas

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s task force for COVID-19 response has allowed the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to conduct face-to-face assessments for household service workers in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), Malacañang said Friday.

However, the conduct of the activity is subject to conditions, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque said in-person assessments shall be held only in TESDA Training Institutions and will remain prohibited in private assessment centers.

The activity will also be limited to household service workers who are ready for deployment and have already secured contracts and visas.

“Applicants must further abide by TESDA guidelines relative to the conduct of in-person assessments,” Roque said.

The Palace official likewise announced that the IATF has also allowed the resumption of Career Executive Service Written Examinations and Assessment Centers by the Career Executive Service Board, subject to health and safety protocols and the strict observance of the minimum public health standards.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved this policy in a meeting on Thursday, May 13.

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