The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) conducted a recent Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) flight over Pag-asa Island, Ayungin Shoal, and Sabina Shoal, where it showed significant numbers of foreign flagged vessels, including Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) and presence of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels, have been previously observed and reported.
The PCG noted a decrease in the number of suspected CMM vessels observed over Pag-asa – from 42 last week to 15 on Thursday.
The PLA Navy’s Jiangdao Class warship and CCG vessel 5203 continue to loiter within Pag-asa’s twelve (12)-nautical mile territorial sea.
Over Ayungin Shoal, the PCG observed that CCG vessel 5304 maintained her presence roughly six NM from Philippine Navy (PN) vessel BRP Sierra Madre.
Over Sabina Shoal, the PCG monitored a decrease in the number of CMM vessels –17 Thursday from 26 observed two weeks ago.
During the flight, the PCG received a total of seven radio challenges from the CCG vessels: four challenges while over Pag-asa Island’s territorial sea; and three while over the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal.
A complete report on the MDA flight will be endorsed to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea for review and analysis. PCG coordination with the Western Command (WESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Area Task Force – West (ATF-WEST) is ongoing.
The PCG joins AFP-WESCOM in reiterating that current efforts of our civilian and uniformed services promote adherence to an international rules-based order and strengthen established bilateral and multilateral mechanisms to avoid conflict and maintain peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea and in the South China Sea.
Notwithstanding incidents of harassment, coercion, and provocations challenging our legitimate entitlements as articulated by UNCLOS and upheld in the 2016 Arbitral Award, PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu assures the Filipino public that “your PCG will remain steadfast in advancing the national interest.”
Catherine R. Cueto