There are 287 Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels now scattered in the Kalayaan waters covered by the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.
According to National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) chair and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., based on a maritime patrol conducted on May 9, CMM vessels were spotted on artificial islands built by China and some are on the islands covered by the Philippines.
NTF-WPS, 2 CMM, and 2 Houbei-class missile warships were spotted on Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, one CMM on Lawak (Nanshan) Island, 11 CMM vessels on Recto (Reed) Bank; and a CMM vessel at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.
At Julian Felipe Reef, he said, 34 Chinese militia vessels, 2 Vietnamese logistics supply ships, and a Vietnamese Coast Guard vessel were spotted on Sin Cowe East Reef while 77 Chinese militia vessels were spotted on Chigua Reef.
They also found 14 CMM vessels on Panata Island, a Vietnamese fishing vessel on Kota Island, 64 CMM in Burgon or Gaven Reef North, 2 Vietnamese fisheries surveillance ships, and a Chinese rescue service ship on Paredes reef, 3 plan warships, and 55 Chinese militia vessels on Bravery Reef.
287 Chinese ships scattered in the West Philippines Sea
Meanwhile, despite diplomatic protests filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs against China in connection with the latter’s ships on the Julian Felipe Reef, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday that the Philippines does not cover that part of the ocean.
“We’re making a big thing out of the fact, when that area was never under our possession,” said Roque in a Palace briefing.
“Ang talagang nag-aagawan sa Julian Felipe, Vietnam at China,” he added.
Roque, however, said the government is not dismissing the claim to such an area.
“Our claim is Julian Felipe Reef is an island and an island generates maritime territory. Pero ni hindi nga po ‘yan kabahagi ng arbitration natin, napakalayo talaga niyan sa atin. Pero hindi po natin binabalewala ang claim natin,” he insisted.