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Palace confident Chinese militia presence in West Philippine Sea won't lead to standoff
This March 7, 2021 photo shows Chinese maritime militia ships moored in line formation at the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea.
NTF-WPS

Palace confident Chinese militia presence in West Philippine Sea won't lead to standoff

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - March 22, 2021 - 6:33pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday expressed confidence that the presence of Chinese maritime militia ships at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea won't escalate to something similar to the 2012 Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal standoff.  

Last Sunday, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that about 220 Chinese maritime militia vessels were spotted at the Julian Felipe Reef, which is located approximately 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.

The reef is within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf, over which the Philippines enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources.
 
"I don't think so because we have a close friendship," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing when asked if he thought the incident would lead to a situation similar to what happened in Panatag nine years ago.

"Everything can be discussed by friends and neighbors," he added.

Panatag Shoal is situated 124 nautical miles from the nearest point in Zambales and is within the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.  
In 2012, a standoff ensued after Chinese vessels stopped Philippine Navy ships from arresting Chinese poachers. China has since maintained its presence in the traditional fishing ground.

Roque noted that the Philippines has protested the presence of the Chinese ships at the reef.

"Under international law, that's what we should do, file a diplomatic protest. Let us wait for the response of China," the Palace spokesman said.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea has expressed concern over the presence of Chinese ships at the Julian Felipe Reef, citing the possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment and risks to safety of navigation. 

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA DISPUTE
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