DND: Chinese ship hit, sank PH vessel in West PH Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   June 12, 2019   •   3285

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday revealed that a Philippine boat sank on Sunday night (June 9) following a collision with a Chinese vessel in the waters off the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denounced the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for leaving the scene immediately after the collision, endangering the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen onboard the F/B GIMVER1.

“We denounce the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for immediately leaving the scene of the incident, abandoning the 22 Filipino crewmen to the mercy of the elements,” Lorenzana said.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew. This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people,” he added.

According to Lorenzana, the F/B GIMVER1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel.

A Vietnamese fishing vessel in the area rescued the Filipino crew in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command.

“We thank the captain and crew of Vietnamese vessel, for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew,” the defense chief said.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which was in the area for a routine maritime patrol, has been tasked to assist in the recovery of the vessel and its crew.

Lorenzana also called for a formal investigation into the incident and requested concerned agencies to take diplomatic steps against China.

“We call for the conduct of a formal investigation on the matter and for diplomatic steps be taken to prevent a repeat of this incident,” he said.

The Philippines and China have long been involved in a maritime dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea.

READ: Duterte tells China: Back off from Pag-asa island

Hundreds of suspected Chinese maritime militia boats have also been spotted in the disputed waterways in the past months, which have made headlines amid the territorial row between Manila and Beijing.

PH-US military drills within 180 days of VFA scrapping to push through — Lorenzana

Robie de Guzman   •   February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The military exercises between the Philippines and the United States scheduled for the following months will still push through despite the Duterte government’s move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the training between Filipino and American soldiers will still proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force.

“With the formal serving of the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, this year’s planned military exercises with the Americans shall proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force,” he said.

The Defense chief, however, said American troops may opt to discontinue the exercises before the 180 days are up.

Once the VFA’s termination is final, Lorenzana said Filipino troops will stop conducting military drills with their American counterparts.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday confirmed that they have received the notice of termination sent by the Philippine government. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

PHL, Chinese Coast Guard hold joint maritime drills in Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese Coast Guard on Wednesday conducted joint maritime drills on search and rescue and combating fire at sea in the waters off the Philippine capital.

In a statement, the PCG said participating Filipino and Chinese personnel were given a scenario involving a vessel that caught fire while transiting Manila waters.

In response, the PCG deployed its 44-meter multi-role response vessel 4401, BRP Tubbataha, while the Chinese team dispatched vessel 5204. Both ships were equipped with water cannons used in firefighting assistance.

Five passengers and eight crew aboard the distressed ship were also rescued using rigid hull inflatable boats with rescue swimmers to aid the victims.

The PCG said the drill allows coast guard personnel to exercise interoperability and strengthen their capabilities in responding to such crises.

The joint maritime drills on search and rescue, and combating fire at sea are part of the week-long activities of Chinese Coast Guard’s port call in Manila.

The visit aims to strengthen understanding, mutual trust, and cooperation between the Philippines and China Coast Guard in a bid to promote maritime security and maritime law enforcement amid the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

PH, China Coast Guard to hold joint maritime exercises next week

Robie de Guzman   •   January 10, 2020

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 Chinese Coast Guard will dock in Manila on Monday, January 13 for a five-day goodwill visit, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Friday.

PCG spokesperson Captain Armand Balilo said the China Coast Guard, headed by Director General Major General Wang Zhongcai, will visit the country for the conduct of maritime exercises with the PCG.

Participating coast guard members from the two countries will also hold search and rescue, and firefighting exercises. The drill will be held from January 13 to 17.

Balilo said that during the port visit, the Chinese and the Philippine coast guards will come up with a resolution that would ensure the security and safety of Filipino fishermen and public vessels traversing the country’s waters.

The PCG said it will welcome the China Coast Guard not with red carpet but with diplomatic reciprocity, the same way it welcomed the PCG during a past visit.

The Philippines has been in dispute with China over territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea.

On several cases, Chinese ships were reported to have been circling shoals under the Philippine territory, including the vicinity of Pagasa Island in the West Philippine Sea. There were also cases of Filipino vessels reportedly harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard vessels.

The PCG expressed hope that the drill would be an opportunity for both sides to discuss the issue, and help improve the line of communication between the two nations when it comes to maritime patrol.

“Para magkaintindihan din kasi ang iniisip nga namin kung merong ma-enhance iyong pagkakaibigan baka sakaling magkaintindihan, even doon sa patrol at tsaka sa mga challenges, baka magkaroon ng tamang protocol kung paano ang dapat na engagement,” Balilo said.

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