Coast Guard, BFAR drive away Chinese vessels from Sabina Shoal in West PHL Sea

The Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources successfully drove away seven Chinese maritime militia vessels from Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea./PCG/

(Eagle News) — Philippine maritime authorities drove away Chinese vessels from Sabina Shoal off Palawan last Tuesday, April 27.

The Philippine Coast Guard made the disclosure on Wednesday, May 5, after it announced it was preparing its second leg of maritime patrols with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Bataan and Benham Rise.

China is also claiming Benham Rise, which is a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau located near Aurora.

According to the PCG, a PCG-BFAR patrol spotted the seven unidentified foreign vessels anchored in the water approximately 73 miles from Mapankal Point.

They were later discovered to be Chinese maritime militia vessels.

“To unidentified foreign vessels at Sabina Shoal. This is Philippine Coast Guard. We are BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409). You are within Philippine exclusive economic zone. You are requested to provide the following: name of vessel, intention, last and next port of call on Channel 16,” a female crew member could be heard saying in the background in the video released by the PCG on the incident.

The PCG said the PCG-BFAR crew did not receive a response, prompting them to approach the Chinese vessels.

Before the PCG-BFAR could reach them, the PCG said the crew on board lifted their anchors and sailed away.

The PCG said the Philippine vessels followed to ensure the Chinese vessels would completely leave Sabina Shoal.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. hailed the PCG-BFAR action, noting that it showed “Filipino courage.”

“It is not the weapon but the hand that holds it and never lets it go until death loosens its grip on the handle. We can rest easy now. Our country is in good hands. In the night of our times we can say at first light that we knew people who knew how to die—in this watch,” the Foreign Affairs Secretary said.

“Our President could stop this anytime but look he hasn’t…Here is the iron glove of independent foreign policy in my watch,” he added.

The Philippines has filed several diplomatic protests over Chinese presence in the West Philippine Sea.

Only recently, it filed the same over the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels swarming Julian Felipe Reef.

The Chinese had claimed the ships were only taking shelter after rough weather conditions, but Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana did not buy the explanation.

Following an exchange of words between Lorenzana and the Chinese embassy in Manila, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it noted a reduction in the number of vessels in the area.