‘Chinese warship harassed Phl boats off Kalayaan’

Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A Chinese amphibious warship twice harassed a four-boat convoy of Kalayaan town while delivering food and other household supplies to the inhabitants of Pag-Asa Island last Oct. 27, according to the mayor of the island town.

Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon, who recently returned to mainland Palawan from the island town, said a silver gray warship with bow No. 995 directly sailed towards and crossed the path of M/T Queen Seagull, a 200-ton vessel owned and operated by the local government of Kalayaan island town in the Spratlys.

The vessel, a cargo and supply ship, is being used to haul supplies from mainland Palawan to the civilian residents in Pag-Asa island, the seat of the Kalayaan island municipality that comprises the country’s seven regime of islands and two reefs in the hotly-contested region.

Bito-onon said their boats were already five hours away from Pag-Asa island after spending four nights and four days in Lawak island due to bad weather.

The convoy was with 12 Vietnamese fishing boats, a Chinese aquarium ship and four Filipino fishing boats from Batangas and General Santos City when the Chinese warship cut the path of M/T Seagull, which was then towing a utility boat with civilian passengers followed by a twin-engine motorboat that was also towing another utility boat loaded with fishing gear for local fishermen in Pag-Asa.

“We thought that Chinese warship was just heading back to Hainan from one of their occupied islands, as it was sailing north coming from southern part of the Spratlys. But we saw it again heading back towards our position, threatening to ram the utility boat being towed by M/T Seagull Queen, triggering panic among the civilians passengers,” Bito-onon told The STAR.

Earlier, China announced that it is deploying its first maritime vessel to patrol and protect its territory in the West Philippine Sea, without mentioning that they have already deployed their amphibious warship in the area.

It also declared that starting today, it will start boarding vessels that enter its territorial waters illegally.

The harassment happened in daylight and it was impossible for the Chinese warship not to notice or monitor the presence of the boats, according to Bito-onon.

Aside from the amphibious warship, the Kalayaan mayor also reported that they are monitoring four large Chinese vessels with more than 100 sampans conducting coral excavations in the southern reef very close to Pag-Asa island.

The southern reef is a buffer zone to prevent soil erosion in Pag-Asa island, one of the two biggest islands in the region which is being occupied by both civilian inhabitants and Filipino troops on forward deployment in the area.

The other island is Itu Aba occupied by the Taiwanese forces.

Bitoon-on said he dispatched an environmental team to the area to photograph and record the ongoing illegal activities in the southern reef, but found out that Chinese crew members in one of the four vessels deployed in the area were also photographing their presence.














  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with