AFP: No sightings of anti-ship ballistic missile test in West PH Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   July 5, 2019   •   4159

A Filipino soldier patrols at the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015. REUTERS/RITCHIE B. TONGO/POOL

MANILA, Philippines – The Western Command (WESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said there is no monitored sighting of an anti-ship ballistic test in the West Philippine Sea, following reports of a missile launch by China in the area.

“Based on the report of our operating units, particularly the Joint Task Force West, there is no monitored sighting of anti-ship ballistic missile test conducted in our joint area of operations,” the AFP said in a statement dated July 3.

The military assured it is regularly conducting maritime patrol missions in the Philippine-held island detachments, especially in the West Philippine Sea.

“WESCOM is continuously monitoring our area of responsibility especially in the West Philippine Sea and conducts regular maritime and sovereignty patrol missions incessantly to sustain our presence in the 9 PH-held island detachments,” the AFP said.   

The military issued the statement after Pentagon reported about China’s “disturbing” missile launch near the Spratly (Kalayaan) islands that is contrary to Beijing’s pledge in 2015 not to militarize the man-made outposts in the disputed waterway.

The Philippine Department of National Defense earlier said an inquiry into the said reports will be conducted.

“We will decide later what to do if proven correct,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message sent to reporters.  

Military unfazed by sightings of Chinese vessel in Ayungin Shoal

Marje Pelayo   •   August 23, 2019

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese Coast Guard vessel is pictured on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported on August 20 sightings of Chinese Coast Guard in Ayungin Shoal within the Philippines exclusive economy zone (EEZ).

According to the military, the vessel remained in Ayungin Reef for almost three weeks.

The AFP Western Mindanao Command reported its first sighting of the Chinese vessel on August 1.

It leaves the area every time it runs out of supply.

 “Nagmo-monitor lang sila ng mga galaw ng mga boat nila saka ‘yong sa atin din saka kung ano ‘yong nangyayari doon. They’re just there,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Penetrante, the AFP Wescom spokesman.

The official noted that the presence of the Chinese vessel does not interfere in their operations in the area where the BRP Sierra Madre is also docked to serve as a military outpost in the said waters.

“Wala namang conflict na gustong [gawin]. (They are not inviting conflict.) They are just there. Parang tolerating their presence,” Penetrante said.

As of this writing, China’s embassy in the Philippines has yet to respond on the matter. – MNP (with reports from April Cenedoza)

Locsin confirms filing of protest on Chinese warships’ entry in Sibutu Strait

Maris Federez   •   August 22, 2019

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., confirmed Thursday that the diplomatic protest against China on the illegal entry of its warships in Sibutu Strait has already been filed.

This, following his order to the DFA-Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs to file the protest against the Chinese warships that trespassed in the Philippine seas this month, and also last July, without coordinating with concerned authorities.

Based on the report of the Armed Forces of the Philippines – Western Mindanao Command (AFP-Wesmincom), two Chinese warships were sighted in July. Another three were also monitored passing in the Philippine waters this month.

Locsin said that such acts are clear cases of trespassing as they are not authorized to sail in the waters within the Philippine territory.

“I already described my foreign policy as the fist and iron glove of the Armed Forces. so we work hand in hand with the military,” Locsin added.

The DFA chief hopes that this issue will be tackled in President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China next week for the two countries to agree on the necessary steps to take on the matter.

Locsin said they are now in the drafting the agenda of the meeting between President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (with details from Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

AFP seeks to further strengthen assets following Chinese warships’ ‘incursion’ in PH waters

Robie de Guzman   •   August 20, 2019

Philippine Navy warship, BRP Conrado Yap (PS 39), donated by South Korean government, docks at Port of Manila, Philippines, 20 August 2019​. According to reports, the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), the former South Korean ‘Pohang’-class corvette ‘Chungju’, is the most heavily-armed and powerful​ surface combatant of the Philippine Navy (PN) to date. The vessel was named after Captain Conrado Yap, a decorated Filipino soldier who was part of t​he Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea during the 1950s.

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is seeking to further strengthen its naval and aerial assets following the series of uncoordinated passages of Chinese warships in the country’s waters.

AFP Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Maj. Arvin John Encinas said they have already filed a proposal to intensify naval operations in their area after several Chinese ships were spotted passing through Philippine waters without notifying local authorities.  

“Nagsubmit ng proposal na palakasin pa ang naval units dito sa area ng WESMINCOM upang sa ganun nga upang ma-address ang issues particularly dito sa maritime domain natin as far as security is concerned,” he said.

(A proposal has been submitted seeking to strengthen naval units in the WESMINCOM area in order to address the issues, particularly in our maritime domain as far as security is concerned.)

The AFP earlier reported that at least five Chinese naval ships sailed through Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi without prior coordination.

Based on their monitoring, five Chinese ships with bow numbers 998, 964, 195, 853 and 536 had been seen navigating the area between July and August.

The AFP said that aside from the said period, they have also spotted Chinese ships passing through the channel without permission since February.

The military said the vessels ignored radio communications from Philippine patrols.

The Sibutu Strait separates Sulu archipelago from Borneo.

Although considered an international sea lane where foreign vessels have the right of innocent passage, customary maritime law requires warships to coordinate with the coastal state beforehand.

The military said these ships could not claim innocent passage as they took a curved course and not a straight line.

“These previous months mayroon na tayong namomonitor na warships ng China kung kaya’t tuloy-tuloy po ang ginawang monitoring at patrolling ng ating Navy vessels at the same time, ‘yung ating Coast Guard diyan sa Sibutu Passage diyan natin nakikita lagi itong mga warship ng China,” Encinas said.

(These previous months, we have monitored Chinese warships in the area prompting continued monitoring and patrolling operations by our Navy vessels, at the same time, our Coast Guard in the Sibutu Passage where Chinese warships were spotted.)

Encinas added they have also informed the military national leaders on the monitored incursions to engage with their counterparts on the issue.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier ordered the filing of a diplomatic protest regarding the Chinese warships clear act of trespassing. (with contributions from UNTV correspondent Dante Amento)

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