Philippines, China exchange radio challenges in WPS

The Philippines and China exchanged radio challenges anew during the recent Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) humanitarian mission for Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Ian Cruz reported on “24 Oras” Friday that the BFAR aircraft monitoring the mission received radio challenges from the Chinese Navy as the plane approached the Baja de Masinloc.

“Philippine aircraft, this is Chinese Navy warship calling. You have approached the area adjacent to China’s Huangyan Island,” the Chinese Navy said. “To avoid miscalculation, please alter your course.”

Colonel Charles Manalo, the BFAR plane’s co-pilot responded: “This is the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources aircraft of the Philippine government conducting a lawful maritime patrol within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Republic of the Philippines”.

“Based on the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, we are free to fly and operate as international law allows. China, as a signing member of the UNCLOS on December 10, 1982, you are requested to abide by the said convention,” said Manalo.

“You are way beyond the 200 nautical miles of your country. Please review your chart,” he added.

Apart from the floating barrier at the entrance of Bajo de Masinloc, several Chinese ships were also seen swarming the vicinity of the shoal.

The BFAR said at least 16 mother boats of Filipino fisherfolks in the WPS received food, water, and fuel assistance during the humanitarian mission.

The Philippine Coast Guard, for its part, denied claims China had expelled BFAR ships from the Baja de Masinloc.

“The main objective of the Chinese government is why they are doing this kind of falsehood. They want to tell their public audience that they are carrying out their own actions to prevent Philippine vessels from patrolling Bajo de Masinloc. They are lying,” said PCG Spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela.

The National Security Council earlier said the Philippines would rotate the deployment of vessels at the Bajo de Masinloc starting this February to protect fishermen. — Sundy Mae Locus/DVM, GMA Integrated News

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