No harassment of Filipino fishermen near Pag-asa Island—AFP
Aileen Cerrudo • March 7, 2019 • 2138
There are no reported complaints of harassment from the Filipino fishermen near Pag-asa Island according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command (AFP WESCOM).
AFP WESCOM Spokesperson Capt. Cherryl Tindog said the troops of Joint Task Force West are in constant communication with the fishermen, and according to the task force, they have not received any reports of harassment.
They also added that the claims of Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo on China’s alleged harassment of fishermen at Sandy Cay had no basis.
WESCOM also showed a satellite image plotting the locations of monitored fishing vessels in the Philippines along the Pag-asa island from January 1, 2018 to March 5, 2019.
WESCOM continues to encourage local fishermen to continue their activities in the area.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana previously ordered the AFP to verify the report of Kalayaan Mayor Roberto Del Mundo about China harassing Filipino fishermen in Sandy Cay. —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)
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 Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has rewarded five informants for aiding in the arrest of five leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The five informants received over P14 million reward from the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“The AFP is grateful to all informants whose help and cooperation has become vital in the neutralization of these criminals who were responsible for heinous and atrocious crimes against the people and our nation,” he said.
According to AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, the reward system is a huge help in curbing terrorism.
Madrigal, meanwhile, calls on the public to also help authorities fight terrorism by reporting any suspicious activities in their area.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)
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