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Metro Manila  — The Philippine government is monitoring the presence of about 150 Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the National Security Council (NSC) said Wednesday.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon – sponsor of the NSC’s 2022 budget – provided details about the Chinese vessels during the plenary debates on next year’s proposed ₱5.024-billion national budget.

Kino-confirm po ng NSC na mayroon pa rin pong umaaligid na Chinese maritime vessels doing fishing operations, moving from one spot to another. At ‘yun nga po ‘yung binabantayan din ng counterparts dito sa Philippine side,” he said.

[Translation: The NSC confirms there are still Chinese maritime vessels roaming, doing fishing operations, moving from one spot to another. Our counterparts are monitoring these.]

Pressed on the number of Chinese vessels currently in the disputed waters, Biazon said: “About 150 vessels, estimated.”

Biazon added that the Chinese vessels are estimated to be between 30 and 50 meters long.

Sa appearance nila mukhang civilian vessels kaya tinatawag na maritime militia. They look civilian but you know they have some strategic mission to do out there,” he said.

[Translation: Based on their appearance they look like civilian vessels that’s why they are called maritime militia.]

Biazon said the NSC has recommended that the Philippine government step up its patrolling of the West Philippine Sea amid increasing Chinese presence in the area.

He, however, added that this would require additional funds from Congress for the purchase of more vessels. – CNN Philippines