- Published on Friday, 01 June 2012 00:00
- Written by VICTOR REYES
By A Web design Company
TWO additional Chinese maritime surveillance ships have been spotted at the Panatag Shoal, bringing the total number of Chinese vessels in the standoff area to 15, a security official said yesterday.
“As of this morning, per monitoring by our authorities, there are seven Chinese vessels and eight Chinese fishing vessels. That means a total of 15 (Chinese ships and fishing vessels),” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The official said the Chinese ships in the area are four Chinese maritime surveillance (CMS) ships and three fisheries law enforcement command (FLEC) vessels.
Last May 23, the Department of Foreign Affairs, quoting a report from the Philippine Coast Guard, said there were two CMS and three FLECs. The DFA had also reported 16 Chinese fishing boats and 56 utility boats in the area.
The source said the number of Philippine government vessels at the disputed shoal remain at two – a Philippine Coast Guard search and rescue vessel, and a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ship.
The official said no Chinese utility boat was monitored in the area.
“I believe that there is a prevailing inclement weather in the area. It’s not appropriate to go fishing at this time,” the official said. “There are no (Chinese) utility boats there, meaning they are not fishing.”
A standoff between China and Philippines broke out last April 10 when the Philippine Navy’s cutter BRP Gregorio del Pilar accosted eight Chinese fishing vessels gathering live sharks, giant clams and corals at the shoal.
Two Chinese maritime fishing vessels appeared and prevented the Navy ship from arresting the Chinese fishermen, triggering the standoff. Filipino and Chinese diplomats are still working to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.