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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

PH Navy reports fewer Chinese militia vessels in Julian Felipe Reef

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A Philippine Navy official said Wednesday the number of Chinese maritime militia vessels at Julian Felipe Reef has significantly decreased from the previous weeks.

Philippine Navy Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, Western Command’s spokesperson, said the latest air patrol found a “drastic reduction” in Chinese vessels in the area from a high of 135 to only 28.

“We are still monitoring their locations as of now,” Carlos said in a briefing at the House Special Committee on the West Philippine Sea.

Carlos said the Philippine military’s standard operating procedure on dealing with Chinese vessels includes issuing radio challenges and monitoring their presence.

“When we monitor any increase in the presence of Chinese vessels in any feature in the WPS, we are always there. The Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard, we follow the existing procedure to confront this presence,” Carlos said.

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House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro expressed concern on the presence of Chinese vessels in the area despite Philippine efforts.

“It seems that China is ignoring our note verbale and diplomatic protests. They need to leave because it is our exclusive economic zone. It seems the existing procedures are not effective,” Castro said.

Carlos said the Philippine response on the ground is really very calibrated. “We want peace on the ground,” he said.

Commodore Jay Tarriela said while the Philippine Coast Guard could not maintain a 24/7 presence in the area, current efforts are effective.

“With the transparency initiative that we have launched since February, wherein we expose the swarming of Chinese maritime militia, we can notice how they responded to the swarming in Sabina Shoal before, last April, when we publicized it. A few days after, they left,” Tarriela said.

The Philippine government continues to monitor the situation and implement its standard operating procedures to deter Chinese presence in the West Philippine Sea. The military and Coast Guard said they are committed to maintaining peace and order in the area.

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