MANILA – Several Philippine Navy ships are ready for patrol missions at the Julian Felipe Reef but it is up to the operational commanders when to deploy them.
Navy chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said Navy vessels and aircraft are stationed at the Naval Forces West and Naval Forces Northern Luzon which cover the jurisdiction of the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Some of the ships that can be deployed to patrol the WPS include the offshore patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) and the anti-submarine corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39).
“As to what vessels will be deployed to Julian Felipe Reef or the details of their deployment, that’s the call of the operational commanders,” Bacordo said.
The military’s first missile frigate, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) would be deployed to the WPS only through an order from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“When HHQ (higher headquarters) so directs,” Bacordo said.
Since the latest incursion of around 220 Chinese maritime militia at the Julian Felipe Reef on March 7, the Philippines has been deploying military aircraft to monitor the situation in the area.
The reef is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. It is located approximately 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.
The United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany as well as the European Union already aired concern over the current situation in the region.
France and Germany, the latest among those who issued a statement, called on parties “to refrain from measures which endanger peace, stability, and security” in the Indo-Pacific. (PNA)