21 July 2016

Coast Guard continues patrol in disputed waters

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Tuesday it will continue patrolling in the West Philippine Sea following the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) favoring the Philippines’ case against China’s territorial claim to the disputed waters.

Coast Guard Spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said he has instructions on what action to take in the West Philippine Sea but for the meantime said the Coast Guard vessel BRP Pampanga will continue to patrol the area from Subic to Northern Luzon.

BRP Pampanga

Balilo said that although the vessel’s position far from the Scarborough Shoal, it is ideal that the BRP Pampanga is already at sea so it can immediately deploy once orders arrive.

Once the BRP Pampanga is deployed at the Scarborough Shoal, it will likely stay there for only a few days at a time, he said.

He recalled that when they went to the shoal in 2013, they stayed there with a vessel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for four days before another ship arrived.

“Vessels take turns at the Shoal every three to four days,” he said, adding that they have a smaller ship available for deployment.

He said that the Coast Guard has been conducting sovereignty patrols in the West Philippine Sea since 2013 but only covered 12 nautical miles as ordered by Coast Guard Rear Admiral William Melad.

“We have not been approaching Scarborough Shoal but BRP Pangasinan has been patrolling along the territorial waters. For national security reasons, Admiral Melad gave an order to not go beyond 12 nautical miles,” Balilo said. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos, Manila Bulletin)