200 Chinese fishing vessels monitored by military around Pag-asa Island: AFP
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal said only 200 Chinese fishing vessels were monitored around the vicinity of Pagasa Island.
“I just talked with the Western Command commander. Based on report, there were around 600 plus for the year. When you count, that is the total of the sightings, but the vessels involved is below that because those that were sighted are the same vessels,” Madrigal said in an ambush interview after the opening ceremony of the Balikatan in Camp Aguinaldo Monday.
“Maybe there are around 200 plus vessels. It’s not 600,” he added.
Madrigal emphasized that the presence of Chinese fishing vessels in the area is a concern not only for the military but for the Philippine Coast Guard.
He made the clarification following the reported presence of more than 600 Chinese vessels circling around the Pagasa Island since January.
In a statement, the Department of National Defense (DND) said the vessels from other countries should also honor the “international obligations and protocols” at the international waters.
“The Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been continuously monitoring the waters around Pag-asa and they are aware of the presence of Chinese vessels and their activities in the area. The Department of National Defense, meanwhile, has been communicating reports of the above to the Department of Foreign Affairs for appropriate action,” it stated.
“Just as the Philippines honors our international obligations and protocols, we also expect other countries and their vessels to do the same especially when sailing and fishing in international waters,” it added.
“This is necessary in order to avoid any misunderstanding and to reduce tensions between countries in the region,” it noted.
Despite the significant number of Chinese fishing vessels monitored in the West Philippine Sea, the DND encourages Filipino fishermen to continue their activities within our territorial waters.
“Having said that, we encourage our fishermen to continue their fishing activities in our waters and Exclusive Economic Zone,” it stated. Robina Asido/DMS