In this Dec. 23, 2019 photo, Philippine Coast Guard commandant Admiral Joel Garcia welcomes former members of the military and police forces to serve the country through the organization as they took oath.
We are welcome in China too, PCG says of Chinese Coast Guard visit to Manila
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - January 10, 2020 - 4:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard said it will welcome a Chinese Coast Guard ship when it arrives in Manila out of "diplomatic reciprocity."

A CCG ship is scheduled to arrive in the Philippines on Monday for a five-day goodwill visit.

Adm. Joel Garcia, PCG commandant  clarified that the Philippines will not be according "red carpet" treatment to the Chinese vessel.

"Hindi po red carpet and treatment natin sa Chinese Coast Guard. Ito pong sa diplomatic (language) po ay tinatawag na diplomatic reciprocity," Garcia said in a televised press briefing.

He added that the CCG vessels will be welcomed the same way that the PCG was welcomed by China during a past visit.

Reported harassment by China's Coast Guard

On the several cases of Filipino vessels being harassed by CCG ships in the West Philippine Sea, Garcia said this would be an opportunity for both sides to discuss the issue.

Hundreds of Chinese ships, including coast guard, navy and fishing vessels, were also reported to have been circling the vicinity of Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea last year.

"Kung sa perception ng mga Pilipino ay sumasama ang ating kalooban dahil sa pinaggagawa ng mga Chinese Coast Guard sa ating mga Philippine Coast Guard vessels, sa Philippine Navy, sa fisherman ay nararapat lang talaga na once and for all ay tayo ay umupo sa lamesa at pag-usapan 'tong sama ng damdamin, sama ng kalooban." Garcia said.

Garcia added that the proper resolution for the two countries is to come up with a "win-win" solution that would ensure the security and safety of Filipino fishermen and public vessels in the country's waters.

According to the PCG chief, it was the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that approved the CCG's request to undertake a port visit to the country.

This would be the third meeting between the PCG and CCG under 2017 memorandum of agreement between the two countries.

Garcia noted that all issues that will be discussed between the two coast guards have been vetted by the DFA. 

Asked whether China sees the upcoming port visit as just a visit or sailing on their own waters, Garcia said he does not think the CCG will be coming to the Philippines to show to the world that the disputed South China Sea is theirs.

"The mere fact that they requested for a port visit is a manifestation that this is part of the diplomatic effort being done by China to deescalate the tension," Garcia said.

Scarborough Shoal

In a March 2019 report to the US Congress, US Indo-Pacific Command head Adm. Philip Davidson said Filipino fishermen were being regularly harassed and intimated in the vicinity of Scarborough or Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Davidson reported to the US Congress that Chinese coast guard vessels "regularly harass and intimidate fishing vessels from our treaty ally, the Philippines, operating near Scarborough Reef, as well as the fishing fleets of other regional nations."

The Department of National Defense (DND) itself reported that a CCG ship blocked Filipino vessels conducting a resupply mission to the Philippine Navy's BRP Sierra Madre grounded on Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

In a report to the House of Representatives, the DND indicated that a CCG ship came as close as 1,600 yards from three Philippine civilian vessels on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in May last year.

The DND report also noted that CCG ships have been regularly monitoring Ayungin Shoal since January 2019.

"Notably, China regularly deploys at least one CCG vessel perceived to be monitoring the activities there at, including the arrival of Filipino fishing boats as well as the Rotation and Reprovision mission of the [Philippine Navy]," the DND report read.

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