Coast Guard patrols to “test the water” in the disputed Scarborough Shoal
The Philippine government wants to "test the water" with the resumption of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) patrol in the disputed Scarborough Shoal, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Thursday.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the PCG vessels would patrol the Scarborough Shoal in South China Sea after Filipinos were no longer barred by Chinese coast guard to fish near the Shoal, locally known as the Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.
Tugade told reporters in Malacanang deploying Coast Guard vessels is part of the "roving inspection, testing the water."
Since after the April 2012 standoff between the Chinese and Philippine Navy vessels in Scarborough , Chinese coast guard has been patrolling the area and driving away Filipino fishermen.
But shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to China on October 18-21, Filipino fishermen were no longer barred from catching fish near the Shoal.
According to Philippine government officials, there was no agreement reached with China regarding the plight of the Filipino fishermen. They could not also give guarantee that Chinese coast guard would not prevent the local fishermen in going to Scarborough in the future.
Asked if he was not concerned that a clash might occur between the PCG and the Chinese coast guard, Tugade said, "that is farthest from our mind right now." Celerina Monte/DMS