MANILA – The Philippines on Wednesday has reiterated its call for China to withdraw its militia ships spotted massing in the country’s maritime territory off the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF WPS) issued this call as the Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) have continued with their “unlawful swarming presence” and have appeared off the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) instead of complying with the country’s demand that they withdraw their ships off Julian Felipe Reef.
“NTF WPS stands by its observation that these so-called ‘fishing’ vessels are maritime militia. Their build-up and massing formation from Julian Felipe Reef to other areas of the Kalayaan Island Group is hazardous to navigation and safety of life at sea,” it added.
NTF WPS added that it is possible that Chinese ships might be doing something illegal at night and that their continued presence may cause irreparable damage to the marine environment due to marine pollution and the destruction of coral reefs.
“Their swarming also poses a threat to the peaceful exercise of sovereign rights of the Philippines in its EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone),” it added.
It said it continues to assert Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over the KIG and WPS and expressed its concern over the illegal Chinese maritime presence.
“After our three rounds of routine aerial and maritime sovereignty patrol missions complemented by the filing of a diplomatic protest by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the number CMM recorded at 220 on 7 March 2021, remained high at 183 on 22 March 2021, and 199 on 27 March 2021,” NTF WPS said.
Also on March 29, 44 CMM vessels remained moored, anchored, and stationary at Julian Felipe Reef. (Click here to read more…)