Pacman blasts China on coast guard ship ‘shadowing’ PH research vessel in WPS

Pacman blasts China on coast guard ship ‘shadowing’ PH research vessel in WPS

A Chinese coast guard vessel is seen shadowing its PH counterpart off the coast of Pangasinan in this file (photo courtesy of asahi.com)

By Tracy Cabrera

MANILA — Reacting to a Chinese coast guard vessel shadowing a research vessel deployed last month by a joint team of Filipino and Taiwanese scientists, PROMDI presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao blasted China’s intrusion and urged the government to strengthen its stand against this by the Mainland into the country’s exclusive economic zone.

In a report, maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal, who is also a director of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, disclosed that the Chinese coast guard vessel CCG 5203 was seen still shadowing the RV Legend as shown by a screenshot of the interface of Marine Traffic website as of this morning.

Both vessels were reported to be heading north-northeast, about 65 nautical miles (120 kilometers) off the coastline of Pangasinan province.

“CCG 5203 has no right to interfere with a Philippine-government authorized MSR (marine scientific research) activity conducted with Taiwan,” Batongbacal pointed out.

“CCG 5203’s interference is another example of how [China] continues to attempt to enforce its arbitrary and excessive nine-dash-line claim, seeking to deny the [Philippines] even the right to conduct its own marine scientific research in its own waters,” the maritime expert added.

To this, the People’s Champ has stressed the need for the military to enhance its capabilities in the light of aggressive moves from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and its coast guard who have started to intrude again into our territorial waters.

Based on official records, the MSR was conducted within the 200-nautical mile (370-km) EEZ of the Philippines “and is firmly under Philippine jurisdiction.”

BRP Capones, a Parola-class patrol vessel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), which was supposed to be escorting RV Legend, was just 10 nautical miles (18.5 km) away, but it appeared to be heading back already to Pangasinan after staying with the RV Legend on Thursday.

The ongoing offshore survey is a project of the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) and the National Central University (TNCU) in Taiwan aimed at mapping offshore faults and other geologic features that could set off future earthquakes, tsunamis, and other potentially catastrophic hazards in the region.

The month-long research is partly funded by the Department of Science and Technology and will end on Wednesday, April 13.

A report from the Associated Press (AP) revealed that the Chinese coast guard ship maneuvered about 2 to 3 nautical miles (3 to 5 km) for days from the RV Legend, while the Taiwanese research vessel was straddling the undersea Manila Trench from March 25 to March 30 off Vigan City in Ilocos Sur.

“Its proximity to the research vessel was cause for concern especially when the research vessel was towing a streamer cable for the scientific measurements that were being done,” UP-NIGS professor Carla Dimalanta.

Located about 60 to 120 kilometers from the west coast of Luzon, the Manila Trench, which runs off the western coast of the main northern Philippine island of Luzon on the fringes of the South China Sea has long been an area of concern because of the potential disaster it could unleash if it generated a major earthquake and tsunami.

In a strong statement against the latest Chinese intrusion, Pacquiao said that the authorities should file a diplomatic protest to remind the Chinese government about our country’s sovereign rights despite Beijing’s claims that have already been junked by a ruling from the arbitrary court under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). (ai/mtvn)

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