The Daily Manila Shimbun


Philippines looking into reported presence of Chinese ships near Pag-Asa Island: Abella

August 16, 2017

Philippine authorities are looking into reports Chinese ships were seen near Pag-Asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto said Wednesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in coordination with relevant national security agencies, is verifying reports that Chinese ships were seen near Pag-Asa Island in the West Philippine Sea," said Abella.

Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano said during Monday's budget hearing of the Department of National Defense he received information from his sources in the military that since three days ago, China has deployed 2 frigates, 1 Coast Guard vessel, and 2 large fishing vessels, with their maritime militia, 1-3 nautical miles north of Pag-asa Island."

"Further, the report said, 2 days ago a Philippine government ship from BFAR was prevented by Chinese fishing vessels from going near our sand bars located generally west of Pag-asa Island, around 2-7 miles away," Alejano said.

Alejano said the presence of Chinese Navy and Coast Guard and maritime militias  north of Pag-asa Island is a "threat to our interest in West Philippine Sea."

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said during the budget hearing the military will not take for granted what Alejano finds as "extraordinary activities" of Chinese ships in the Pag-asa Island.

"It would be a very serious thing if the Chinese will occupy any of the islands, even the islands that are far away... That would be a very serious issue," Lorenzana said..

Lorenzana said he is confident China will abide by a "modus vivendi" that brokered by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

"There is status quo now that is happening in the South China Sea brokered by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. According to him, the Chinese will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor they are going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal," Lorenzana said. DMS