MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it will continue the conduct of air and naval patrols off the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to provide a firm basis for diplomatic protests filed by the country due to continued Chinese incursions in the area.
“Hindi rin po titigil ang inyong Armed Forces sa ating ginagawang pagpapatrol, ang mga ulat na ating ginagawa upang sa ganun ay lagi pong may bagong data ang ating DND (Department of National Defense) at ating DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) upang sa ganun ay meron po tayong mga pagbabasehan kung ano mang diplomatic protest na kailangang gawin (The Armed Forces will not stop its patrolling and sending of reports so that there is always new data for the DND and DFA to base their diplomatic protests),” AFP spokesperson, Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said in a radio interview.
Arevalo added that information from patrols will also keep the country’s allies informed regarding the issue.
“(Para) sa mga allied nations na makita nila ang development dito sa Pilipinas, at sa katunayan yun nga pong development na yan ay nag-trigger ng mga reaction na favorable sa Pilipinas buhat sa Amerika, sa ibang mga bansa kagaya ng Japan, Australia, Canada at iba pa (This is for the allied nations to see the development here in the Philippines. In fact, this development has already triggered reactions from the United States and other countries like Japan, Australia, Canada and others that are favorable to the Philippines),” he added.
He said they are now coordinating with other government agencies capable of conducting maritime patrols like the Department of Transportation which has jurisdiction over the Philippine Coast Guard, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Maritime Group of the Philippine National Police to a “limited extent”.
“Kung magpapatrolya man po tayo ika nga, hindi sya indibidwal, hindi siya unscheduled by agency, mas mabuti po ang ating gagawin ay coordinated na po yung ating patrols (If we will do patrols, this will not be on an individual basis or unscheduled by agency. It would be better if our patrols would be coordinated),” he said.
He also said they are now planning to include media members in patrol activities for them to “see for themselves” the developments in the disputed waters.
On Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it will file anew another diplomatic protest against China amid reports that some 240 Chinese vessels were sighted in the Julian Felipe Reef on April 11, indicating its continued presence in the area despite repeated demands from the Philippines to withdraw its ships.
The DFA’s move came just two days after it summoned Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian over the swarming of Chinese ships, believed to be militias, in the area that is within the country’s exclusive economic zone. (PNA)