(Eagle News) — More than 20 Vietnamese and Chinese vessels were spotted around Sabina and Ayungin Shoals and Pag-asa Island from March 16 to 21, the Philippine Coast Guard said.
According to the PCG, included among the vessels spotted by the BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403) when it was conducting its maritime patrol in the West Philippine Sea were several China Coast Guard Vessels (CCGVs) and a People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) Type 056A Jiangdao II Class Missile Corvette.
The PCG vessel also encountered at least two CCGVs with bow numbers 5304 and 5305 near the shoal, the PCG said.
For these vessels, the PCG said the PCG vessel issued multiple radio challenges, but it received no response.
BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403) also deployed rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) to disperse the foreign-flagged vessels in and around the shoal.
“Off Sabina Shoal, BRP Malapascua monitored the presence of at least 20 Chinese and Vietnamese vessels,” the PCG said.
Off Pag-asa Island, the PCG said BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403) also saw a PLAN vessel with bow number 649 within Pag-asa Island’s twelve nautical-mile territorial waters.
The PCG vessel issued multiple radio challenges, while the PLAN vessel responded with its challenge.
Meanwhile, while patrolling Ayungin Shoal, the vessel also monitored the presence of CCGV 5201 and issued radio challenges.
CCGV 5201 shadowed BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403) at a distance of approximately 1,600 yards, according to the PCG.
The PCG said based on a report by BRP Malapascua, CCGV 5201 came as close as 1.2 NM from the grounded Philippine Navy vessel, BRP Sierra Madre.
“The PCG is working in conjunction with the Western Command (WESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Area Task Force-West (ATF-WEST) to monitor and respond to the presence of foreign vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS),” the PCG said.
“PCG and AFP-WESCOM’s MARPAT missions remain invaluable in protecting and securing the country’s rights and interests in the WPS,” it added.