The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF WPS) is coordinating for the deployment of more assets needed by Area Task Forces (ATF) in securing the country’s control and sovereignty over the maritime territory.
“In compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to sustain our sovereignty patrols in the WPS, increase the safety of life at sea operations and intensified operations against Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated Fishing (IUUF), the NTF WPS has coordinated for the deployment of more assets under the control of its ATF,” NTF WPS spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Omar Romero, said in a statement Wednesday.
To augment the vessels and aircraft currently under the country of the ATFs, he said, the government has deployed four Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels, one PCG aircraft, five Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels for WPS maritime patrols, and Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG) high-speed tactical watercraft and rubber boats for maritime law enforcement in the coastal areas.
The Philippines, he said, has sovereignty over the features and the surrounding territorial seas in Kalayaan, Palawan, and enjoys sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) within the West Philippine Sea.
Earlier reports showed the NTF WPS also deployed to the Philippine Navy ships BRP Miguel Malvar (PS-19); BRP Magat Salamat (PS-20); BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35); BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36); BRP Dagupan City (LS-551); BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16); and BRP Tarlac (LD-601).
On Tuesday, Duterte’s said he will send the country’s “gray ships” to the disputed waters if there are oil drilling or exploration activities being conducted there by China.
“I don’t think there’s enough fish really to quarrel about. But when we start to mine, (but) when we start to get whatever it is in the bowels of the China sea in our oil, that’s when I will act. Then by that time I will send my ships there,” he said partly in Filipino on Tuesday.
“I will send my gray ships there to state a claim. That you can be sure of if you start digging for oil, nickel there, precious stones,” he added also partly in Filipino.