‘China militia vessels actively blocking PCG ships’

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
�China militia vessels actively blocking PCG ships�
Handout photo from the Philippine Coast Guard showed a Chinese Coast Guard vessel firing a water cannon.
Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA, Philippines — With their latest show of hostilities in Philippine waters, it has become evident that Chinese maritime militia vessels were taking orders from the Chinese coast guard to stop any resupply mission for the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman Jay Tarriela said on Thursday.

“It has become more obvious that the Chinese maritime militia is now taking orders from the China Coast Guard to actively block the entrance of PCG as it approaches Ayungin Shoal,” Tarriela told the ABS-CBN News Channel.

He was referring to the latest resupply mission for troops on the Sierra Madre, which was marred by dangerous maneuvers by the Chinese trying to stop it. Tarriela said it was a far cry from the “very covert” interaction between the Chinese coast guard and maritime militia vessels during previous attempts to stop the resupply mission.

He also branded as “not completely true” the declaration of the China Coast Guard that is a civilian organization.

He explained that coast guards in the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and the United States have civilian tasks like maritime governance, safety, law enforcement, and protection of marine environment.

“But in China, they are not being deployed on the waters that fall within their own exclusive economic zone. They are actually deployed over waters of other coastal countries whether in the Philippines, Malaysia or Brunei,” he added.

Tarriela said the CCG’s presence in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone “makes them an illegal coast guard organization, pretending to carry out legitimate law enforcement operations within our own exclusive economic zone.”

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) last Sept. 13, Tarriela wrote that the PCG is “resolute in our commitment to safeguarding our exclusive economic zone… despite any limitations we may encounter.”

He also said he was “disheartened (disheartening) to hear doubts cast on our capabilities to carry out this duty without the support of other external actors.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano has urged the Marcos administration to strike a “delicate balance” between strengthening ties with key treaty ally US and learning to live with close neighbor China.

Cayetano made the statement during a press conference on Friday on the increased US military presence through the additional sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

“Our country is at a crossroads, and the difficulty lies in the intensifying rivalry between the US and China. We cannot ignore that their rivalry affects us,” Cayetano, former foreign affairs chief, said.

Cayetano said his former boss president Rodrigo Duterte had a point in saying that the Philippines would become a possible target of China if a shooting war with the US erupts.

“It’s a delicate balance. We have to be dynamic in both our diplomatic and defense posture,” Cayetano said.

“We have to establish relationships with the US, Australia, Japan, Korea, who have been faithful allies. But we also have to live with our biggest neighbor, China,” he added. — Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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