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DFA wants Coast Guard to patrol Panatag

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said that sending Navy ships to patrol Panatag Shoal could be misinterpreted. AP/Aaron Favila, File

MANILA, Philippines (Philippines News Agency) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is better to use Philippine Coast Guard ships instead of the Navy in patrolling the vicinity of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc to avoid any provocative move.

“The position of DFA is to ask concerned government agencies to patrol Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoals) using civilian ships,” DFA spokesman Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said in a text message Wednesday.

He said Coast Guard ships patrolling the area can immediately send information on any development there.

The DFA senior official is reacting to the statement made by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to send Navy ships instead of Coast Guards in the area.

However, Jose said sending Navy ships could be misinterpreted.

This is after Hainan Daily newspaper published the statement made by Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie, Mayor of Sansha City, saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal which is part of the West Philippine Sea.

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Meanwhile, Jose said while waiting for the confirmation that there are moves to build another structure in the West Philippine Sea, the Coast Guard should patrol the area to protect Philippine territory.

He said that once it is confirmed that there is such, “we will file a diplomatic protest.”

Jose pointed out that the Duterte administration is not abandoning the July 2016 ruling of the UN arbitral tribunal favoring the Philippines but just avoiding possible armed confrontation with China.

He added that the announcement made by Jie does not “reflect the official position” of China. 

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