THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Wednesday that several Chinese ships tried to block two of their vessels to prevent them from entering Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
Commodore Jay Tarriela, National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea spokesperson, said the incident transpired on June 30 and involved the BRP Malabrigo and BRP Malapascua, which were escorting two ships to Ayungin Shoal, an area that falls within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“The intention of these two vessels is to support the naval operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Ayungin Shoal,” Tarriela said in an interview.
He said when the two PCG vessels reached a distance of 10 nautical miles away from Ayungin Shoal, they were able to spot two Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels, 5201 and 4203.
Tarriela said the CCG vessels maneuvered close to the PCG vessels “within a distance of approximately 100 yards.”
He said to prevent any possible collision, the PCG ships were forced to decrease their speed and respond to the radio challenges being issued by the CCG vessels.
“In response, the PCG vessels were also challenging the presence of the Chinese vessels, that the area is within the Philippines' EEZ and that they are not supposed to be in the area, and that they are carrying out dangerous maneuvers and violating the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea” said Tarriela.
He said at a distance of 9 nautical miles, the PCG vessels also spotted six Chinese maritime militias that were converging to block them from entering Ayungin Shoal.
Two People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy vessels, 629 and 620, were also seen in the area at a distance of 9 nautical miles from Ayungin Shoal.
Tarriela further reported that when the two PCG ships were approaching Ayungin Shoal at a distance of two nautical miles, another CCG vessel, 3103.
“What is interesting with CCG vessel 3103 is that it came all the way from Bajo de Masinloc. It traveled all the way to Ayungin Shoal to reinforce the two other CCG ships, he said.
Despite the incident, Tarriela said the resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal was carried out and completed.
“The naval operation was a success,” he said. “There was no escalation of tension. the only thing that we experienced is the blocking and shadowing of the CCG vessels,” he pointed out.
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