Chinese vessels shadow Philippine ship in Panatag Shoal

Evelyn Macairan - Agence France-Presse
Chinese vessels shadow Philippine ship in Panatag Shoal
Video image provided by the Philippine Coast Guard shows a Chinese vessel performing a dangerous blocking maneuver against Philippine ship BRP Teresa Magbanua at Panatag or Scarborough Shoal on Feb. 8. Photo below shows PCG personnel distributing food packs to fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

MANILA, Philippines — China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels performed dangerous and blocking maneuvers against the BRP Teresa Magbanua during its nine-day patrol at Panatag or Scarborough Shoal from Feb. 1 to 9, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday.

During its mission, the BRP Teresa Magbanua also distributed food packs and groceries to 100 Filipino fishermen who were on board 14 fishing boats and engaged in fishing activities at Panatag, also referred to as Bajo de Masinloc.

“These CCG vessels shadowed the PCG vessel on more than 40 occasions, with the closest distance being 176 meters from its side. The CCG vessels performed dangerous and blocking maneuvers at sea against BRP Teresa Magbanua four times, with the CCG vessels crossing the bow of the PCG vessel twice, recklessly,” said Commodore Jay Tristan Tarriela, spokesman for the PCG-West Philippine Sea.

At 1:26 p.m. on Feb. 8, a CCG vessel reportedly blocked and conducted a dangerous maneuver by passing from the left side to directly in front of Teresa Magbanua.

Tarriela said that the four CCG vessels had bow numbers 3105, 3302, 3063 and 3064.

PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said that there were only “the usual shadowing and radio challenges. But there was no water canon incident.”

“BRP Teresa Magbanua professionally engaged the Chinese maritime ships through radio, reiterating the clear and principled position of the Philippines in accordance with international law,” he added.

The dispatch of the BRP Teresa Magbanua was in line with the instructions given by the PCG Commandant’s Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan, “to ensure safety and safeguard Filipino fishermen in the area,” Balilo said.

Also spotted in Scarborough Shoal were four Chinese maritime militia vessels.

Tarriela said that the CCG “once again” disregarded the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

“The activities of the Filipino fisherfolk and of the PCG in the area are consistent with national laws and the Philippines’ position on the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

The Filipino fishermen reportedly expressed their gratitude to the PCG, and added that the presence of PCG vessels enhanced their confidence to continue fishing at Scarborough Shoal.

“The Coast Guard’s white ships will consistently ensure Filipino fishermen’s safety and welfare,” Gavan said.

“Every Coast Guardian will do more so that the best public service prevails in accordance with the President’s vision and call for action towards ‘Bagong Pilipinas’ by ensuring food security, among others, being a fundamental element of the societal change that drives national development,” he added.

On Jan. 12, the CCG reportedly harassed some Filipino fishermen who were collecting “taktakun” shells, which were supposed to have been part of their meal, and ordered them to return the shells back into the sea.

At the time there were no vessels from the PCG or the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources at the Scarborough Shoal.

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