No incident as Chinese vessel challenged Coast Guard presence in Scarborough
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spotted a Chinese navy ship while patrolling off the waters of Scarborough Shoal last week.
Capt. Armando Balilo, PCG spokesman, said the Multi-Role Response Vessel BRP Malabrigo, one of the vessels acquired from Japan, spotted one Chinese Navy ship and four other vessels during routine patrol operation at the vicinity of the disputed shoal from Thursday to Sunday.
“Two China Coast Guard, two militia boats and one naval ship were spotted by the personnel of coast guard circling at the side of Scarborough shoal,” he said.
Balilo said it is seldom that a gray ship or the Chinese Navy vessel is spotted near the shoal.
"It seems that there were (Chinese navy vessel) spotted before, but they are not as near as (this one). It's near, 12 nautical miles from the shoal,” he said.
Balilo said during the patrol the Chinese Coast Guard challenged their vessel but he added there was no untoward incident.
Based on the photos provided by the PCG, the spotted Chinese Navy ship with hull number 504 is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy missile-guided frigate Suqian 504.
"Aside from regularly asking the PCG on their presence in the area by the China Coast Guard, there was no untoward incident happened within the four days," he said.
Balilo added three Filipino fishing boats were monitored near Scarborough Shoal during their patrol.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the reported presence of the a warship near the disputed shoal is not disturbing.
“No, it;'s not because we see United States ships. We see other ships passing through, and they were there for a long time. Remember there was a time that a US and Chinese ship nearly collided. So they’ve been always there but most of the ships there are not Navy ships but Coast Guard ships and fishing boats,” he said in an ambush interview with reporters in Camp Aguinaldo .
Lorenzana said even the Philippine Navy also deployed gray ships for patrols within the disputed areas in West Philippine Sea.
“We also send our navy ships in West Philippine Sea. We have a lot of ships that patrols in that area, yes, in the vicinity of Scarborough, Mischief Reef and vicinity of Pagasa (Island),” he said. Robina Asido/DMS