THE Philippine Coast Guard slammed on Sunday China’s dangerous maneuvering of one of its ships against the BRP Malabrigo while on maritime patrol operations in Bajo de Masinloc.
While the incident occurred on March 2, the Philippine Coast Guard only released details on the dangerous encounter on Sunday after it was cleared by the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS).
According to Coast Guard spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo, a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel with bow number 3305 conducted a “close-distance maneuvering,” about 21 yards, toward the Malabrigo while the Philippine Coast Guard vessel was sailing in the waters of Bajo de Masinloc.
As such, it constrained the maneuvering space of Malabrigo, which is a “clear violation” of the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).
According to Coast Guard commandant Admiral Artemio Abu, the incident was the fourth reported close-distance maneuvering incident involving CCG vessels in Bajo de Masinloc.
On May 19, 2021, the PCG-manned BFAR vessel MCS-3005 reported the first incident of close-distance maneuvering involving a CCG vessel with bow number 3301.
The second and third incidents involved two CCG vessels (bow numbers: 3301 and 3103) that conducted close distance maneuvering with BRP Capones (MRRV-4404) and BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) during the PCG’s maritime capability enhancement exercises in Bajo de Masinloc on June 1-2, 2021.
“The behavior of the involved CCG vessels increased the risk of collision with four of our capital ships. Hence, we immediately coordinated with the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to address this issue through rules-based and peaceful approaches,” Abu said.
Transportation Secretary Art Tugade has directed the PCG to continue upholding its mission of promoting the safety of life and property at sea and enforcing all applicable laws within the Philippine waters in support of national development.
“We are fully aware of dangerous situations at sea, but these will not stop our deployment of assets and personnel in Bajo de Masinloc, Philippine Rise, and other parts of the country’s exclusive economic zones (EEZ),” Abu said.
“We will continue to work silently and diligently for we are serving Filipino fishermen at sea. As long as they feel safe seeing us during their fishing operations, we know that we are doing our job well,” he added.
Image credits: PHIL. COAST GUARD