August 21, 2019
Hours after Malacañang warned foreign vessels not to trespass in Philippine waters, the military’s Western Command (WesCom) confirmed that a Chinese Coast Guard vessel had been circling Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, while 27 Chinese fishing vessels were spotted near
Panata (Lankiam) Cay Island.
Vietnamese fishing vessels were also spotted in contested areas in the West Philippine (South China) Sea.
Lt. Col. Stephen Penetrante, WesCom spokesman, said the Chinese Coast Guard vessel was seen “roaming” the Philippine-occupied Ayungin Shoal, where the grounded BRP Sierra Madre is stationed.
Penetrante said the ship had been in the Kalayaan Island Group since August 1.
“We are always vigilant and we are monitoring this [development], we are monitoring what they are doing there, but we saw they have been transferring [from one area to another], stopping and, later on, refurbishing,” he said.
The military officials said 27 Chinese fishing vessels were also sighted near the Panata Island, which is also occupied by the Philippines.
“Of course, [this is a cause for concern], the Chinese Coast Guard has been there ever since, but this is only a white ship and not battle ship,” Penetrante said.
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