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135 Chinese vessels swarm Julian Felipe Reef – PCG

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Saturday deployed two of its vessels to conduct maritime patrols in the immediate vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef, where more than 135 Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels have reportedly been seen swarming.

In a statement, PCG-West Philippine Sea spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela said yesterday that Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan, Coast Guard

commandant, ordered the deployment of two of their multi-role response vessels (MRRVs), the BRP Sindangan and BRP Cabra after learning about the presence of CMMs around the area of Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef.

During the two MRRVs’ patrol, “No response was made to the radio challenges issued by the PCG to the CMM vessels, which is now estimated to have grown to more than 135 vessels dispersed and scattered within Julian Felipe Reef.”

Tarriela described the presence of the CMM as “alarming” because their numbers in the reef area were reportedly “increasing.”

Last Nov. 13, the PCG only monitored 111 CMM vessels in the vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef. But during the last monitoring of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the number of CMM vessels grew to 125.

“In response to this alarming development, National Security Adviser and chair of the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), (retired Army) general Eduardo Año, directed the PCG to carry out a maritime patrol to challenge and document the illegal presence of the CMM vessels in Julian Felipe Reef,” said Tarriela.

The two PCG vessels, that came from Pag-asa Island, only conducted a one-day maritime patrol.

“The PCG maintains its unwavering commitment to safeguarding maritime security, safety and the marine environment in the course of protecting the territorial integrity, sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea in accordance with international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 2016 Arbitral Award and Philippine domestic laws,” said Tarriela.