A CHINESE Coast Guard ship sailed 73 to 100 nautical miles within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone near the Scarborough Shoal off Masinloc, Zambales, recently, and an official said Thursday that had been normal in the past―but not anymore.
“With the new Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling, it has been established that [that area] is part of our exclusive economic zone,” Coast Guard Chief William Melad said.
“We can now go there and fish anytime we want.”
Melad was reacting to questions about a report about the new incursions by Chinese vessels on the country’s EEZ despite the PCA ruling rejecting China’s claims to the West Philippine Sea.
It appeared that China’s newest incursion happened three weeks ago.
Beijing has continued to defy the PCA ruling, which is gaining more and more believers who are questioning China’s real intentions in the vital sea lane where $5 trillion worth of cargo pass each year.
Melad said Chinese vessels could claim “innocent passage” but they had no right to fish within Philippine territory or to prevent Filipino fishermen from fishing in their traditional fishing grounds.
On Thursday, Melad led his men in a turnover ceremony in Manila for a search-and-rescue vessel lent by the Japan International Cooperation Agency to the Coast Guard.
Tokyo has been helping the Coast boost its maritime and surveillance equipment to defend and protect its territory from China’s bullying. Japan has its own maritime dispute with China in the East China Sea.
Melad said his men and the men from the Chinese vessel had an exchange of radio messages, and then the Chinese sailed away.
“It was very polite. They introduced themselves and we introduced ourselves,” he said.
“We had been patrolling the area and assisting our fishermen. That was why our ship was there. It is within our exclusive economic zone.”