Coast Guard challenges, follows Chinese warship out of West Philippine Sea

(Philstar.com) - July 19, 2021 - 10:12am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:58 p.m.) — A coast guard patrol vessel challenged a Chinese "navy warship" at Marie Louise Bank in the West Philippine Sea last week and followed it until it left Philippine waters, the Philippine Coast Guard said.

In a release, the coast guard said BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) reported sighting a ship flying the flag of the People's Republic of China and with Chinese markings at the bank, which is 147 nautical miles from El Nido, Palawan, on July 13.

The PCG said BRP Cabra issued a radio challenge to the Chinese ship while monitoring it on radar. It then moved closer to the ship to get a better view of what the Chinese ship was doing in Philippine waters.

The Chinese ship did not respond, prompting BRP Cabra, to use its Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) to repeat the challenge. It was then that the Chinese ship started moving out of Maria Louise Bank, with BRP Capra following it to make sure it left the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone.

The coast guard said that the Chinese ship only sent a radio message when BRP Cabra was around 500-600 yards, or 0.25-0.30 nautical miles away. "Philippine Coast Guard 4409, this is Chinese Navy Warship 189. Please keep two nautical miles distance from me," the coast guard quotes the Chinese naval vessel as saying.

On June 30, BRP Cabra also challenged and drove away five "Chinese ships" and two "Vietnamese vessels" they monitored in Marie Louise Bank. 

The PCG said its patrol vessel also checked on Filipino fishers on a boat from Occidental Mindoro who were fishing in the bank at the time. "They said  their fishing has been peaceful and bountiful and they have not been abused or harassed by other vessels," the PCG said in Filipino.

The PCG said BRP Cabra's patrol in the Marie Louise Bank and Kalayaan Island Group was part of a mission under Task Force Pagsasanay. The task force was formed in April to ensure the safety and security of Filipino fishers in Philippine waters.

Malacañang, meanwhile, lauded the coast guard for challenging the Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea.

"Congratulations to our brave PCG (Philippine Coast Guard). I'm sure in due course, you will be given the proper recognition that you deserve. We salute you," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing Monday. — with Alexis Romero

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