The military on Saturday clarified that the illegal structures earlier spotted during a maritime patrol at the West Philippine Sea on March 30 are not new constructions.
“Except for five past recorded constructions in the Union Banks – two of which were by the Chinese and three by the Vietnamese – we have observed no new constructions,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office chief, Navy Capt. Jonathan Zata, said in a statement Saturday,
He added that the AFP will remain unrelenting in providing pertinent data to the Department of National Defense and the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF WPS) on “the situation that impinges on our sovereignty and our enjoyment of our sovereign rights.”
AFP chief, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, earlier said the maritime patrol was able to document illegal man-made structures on some of the features.
The AFP, Zata said, is very much concerned over the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef which is an integral part of Pagkakaisa Banks.
Pagkakaisa Banks is under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Kalayaan, Palawan while Julian Felipe Reef is a large boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef at the northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs (Union Reefs), located approximately 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.
He added that the AFP joins DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in calling out these incursions and will continue to monitor the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) through regular air and maritime sovereignty patrols apart from the 24/7 land-based monitoring stations.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea earlier expressed concern about a Philippine Coast Guard report that around 220 Chinese fishing vessels, believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were sighted in line formation at the Julian Felipe Reef on March 7. (PNA)