Philippines West Philippine Sea|News & Discussions

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The locator on the map is the Whitesun Reef that belongs to Philippines that the Chinese fishing vessels have massed up around.

 

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If the US and especially PH can't do something permanent to establish foothold on those islands then China will use it's power to grab it.
 

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Some older news, as some like me may be interested in finding out what the hell PH is going to do against China's "build islands and arm them" strategy.


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The head of the Philippine armed forces visited a coral-fringed island his country occupies in the South China Sea this week, a move that could stoke already heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing in disputed waters claimed by both countries.

During Monday's visit, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Cirilito Sobejana commended the soldiers for the role they played in protecting the island's residents and "guarding the country's territories" in the strategic waterway.

The visit comes after recent diplomatic protests made by the Philippines over what it says is the illegal presence of hundreds of "Chinese maritime militia" vessels inside its exclusive economic zone and near its occupied islands.

Chinese diplomats have said the boats were just sheltering from rough seas and no militia were aboard.

Sobejana's trip to Thitu, known to Filipinos as Pagasa, happened on Monday, but information was only made public by the AFP on Wednesday.

Thitu is the biggest of the nine reefs, shoals and islands the Philippines occupies in the Spratly archipelago, and is home to a small number of military personnel and civilians.

"(The troops) are in very high spirit, their level of moral is high especially after our visit," Sobejana told reporters on Tuesday evening, adding he also wanted to inspect the island to oversee plans to convert it into a logistics hub to make it easier for naval assets conducting patrols to refuel.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Philippines, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea, a conduit for goods in excess of $3 trillion every year.

The foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China agreed during a meeting on Monday to exercise restraint in the South China Sea and avoid actions that could escalate tensions.

 

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Poor as Philippines may be. They're not neglecting these important projects.
 

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Chinese, Vietnamese ships in West Philippine Sea disperse after coast guard challenge​



Patricia Lourdes Viray(Philstar.com) - July 4, 2021 - 11:31am

MANILA, Philippines — Seven foreign fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea dispersed after a radio challenge by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on June 30.
The coast guard's BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) spotted five Chinese and two Vietnamese ships at the vicinity waters off Marie Louise Bank in the West Philippine Sea.
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"This is Philippine Coast Guard BRP Cabra MRRV-4409. You are within Philippine exclusive economic zone," a BRP Cabra personnel said in a radio challenge on the foreign ships, as seen on a video released by the coast guard.

The PCG asked the foreign vessels to identify themselves and their intention in the area, as well as their last and next port call.
Marie Louise Bank, a feature in the Spratly Islands, is located 147 nautical miles off El Nido, Palawan.

The PCG said BRP Cabra "utilized Long Range Acoustic Device to conduct radio challenge to said vessels, in accordance with the PCG Manual on Rules on the Use of Force within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone."

The coast guard vessel later on the condition of a Filipino fishing ship which was also in the area.

At least 34 Filipino fishermen were on board F/B Xiroxira from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

"The Filipino fishermen said they were able to conduct NORMAL FISHING OPERATIONS in the past two weeks without any untoward incidents at sea," the PCG said in a statement released Sunday.

In May, BRP Cabra and two Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ships also drove away seven Chinese maritime militia vessels at Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

The Chinese ships were seen "nested or in stationary liner formation" at Sabina Shoal situated 130 nautical miles west of Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
The offending vessels left the area after a series of challenges from the crew of BRP Cabra.

 

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PH upgrading existing facilities in Kalayaan Islands: DND​

By Priam Nepomuceno July 22, 2020, 5:52 pm


dnd-inauguration-of-pag-asa-beaching-ramp.jpg

UPGRADING FACILITIES. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (center) and several military officials lead the inauguration of the beaching ramp at the Pag-asa Island on June 9, 2020. In a pre-SONA forum on Wednesday (July 22, 2020), Lorenzana said these upgrades of facilities in the Kalayaan Group of Islands are aimed at improving the living conditions of Filipino troops and civilians deployed and living in these islands. (File photo)

MANILA – The Philippines is now upgrading existing facilities in the nine islands that comprise the municipality of Kalayaan, with the bulk of improvements centered on Pag-asa Island.

In a pre-SONA forum aired over state-run PTV-4 Wednesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said these upgrades are aimed at improving the living conditions of Filipino troops and civilians deployed and living in these islands.

"For the first time since the 1970s, Pag-asa Island has received major infrastructure upgrades, namely: a ship beaching ramp, and a sheltered port for our fishermen," said Lorenzana, chair of the Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster.

With the completion of these facilities, Lorenzana said it is now much easier to proceed with other projects such as the concreting of the runway (the Rancudo Airfield) and its apron and construction of other structures for the residents and troops stationed there.

Out of the seven islands and two reefs being controlled by the Philippines in the Spratlys, Pag-asa is the largest measuring 37.2 hectares.
Other Philippine possessions in the area include Likas Island which measures 18.6 hectares, Parola Island, 12.7 hectares; Lawak Island, 7.93 hectares; Kota Island, 6.45 hectares; Patag Island, 0.57; Panata Island, 0.44; Rizal and Ayungin Reefs.

Lorenzana earlier said transportation of materials needed to repair and then maintain the Rancudo Airfield will be made easier with the completion of the Pag-asa Island beaching ramp.

"Very significant (as with) the beaching ramp, we can now bring in materials, equipment to continuously repair and later on to maintain our runway (Rancudo Airfield)," he added.

Prior to the completion of the beaching ramp last June, equipment, and supplies could only be brought in by ship who have to anchor 500 meters away from the shore and transfer it to a smaller boat so that it can be carried to the island.

"So it’s very tedious (practice) and very expensive and we can only do that during calm weather," Lorenzana said.
During the "habagat" or southwest monsoon season, even fishermen are very wary to go in the area due to rough weather and large waves.
With a budget of PHP267.18 million, the construction of the beaching ramp on Pag-asa Island is one of several projects aimed at improving the living conditions of the people there.

A total of PHP1.3 billion worth of projects are also in the pipeline, including the repair and concreting of the runway that has been damaged by erosion. (PNA)


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Pretty bold step and a good move by PH. It's only possible with a super power backing you especially considering how China has been spreading.
 

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300kW power plant switched on in Pag-asa Island, West Philippine Sea​


The National Power Corporation (NPC) today, June 12 switches on its 300kW power plant in Pag-asa Island, Kalayaan Island Group at the West Philippine Sea as the country celebrates its 123rd Independence Day.

The Flag Raising Rite and switching on ceremony has been graced by Lt. Rey S. Tibay, Commanding Officer of the Naval Station Emilio Liwanag/Joint Task Unit in Pag-asa Island and Ms. Corazon Claridad from the Municipality of Kalayaan. Barangay and military officials, representatives from government agencies and some residents were also present to witness the momentous event.

NPC has allotted 33 million pesos for the project that covered the supply, delivery and installation of the diesel generating sets, its 13.8 kV distribution line and the fuel oil storage tanks that will ensure continuous fuel supply.

“Following the successful series of test and commissioning of the facility early this week, we have seen that it is only fitting to formally switch on the power plant as the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Kalayaan residents raise the Philippine Flag on the island on Independence Day,” said NPC President and CEO Pio J. Benavidez.

Kalayaan Diesel Power Plant will provide round the clock power to the 68 facilities (housing facilities, government establishments and military camps) connected to the local distribution line.

Kalayaan Island, a fifth-class municipality under the Provincial Government of Palawan, has an airport runway, a daycare center, an elementary school, a fish landing center, a naval port, a municipal health center, and a couple of government offices like Comelec and Pagasa weather station. It opened to civilian settlement in 2002. NAPOCOR.GOV.PH

 

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Philippine Navy aircraft patrols, delivers equipment to Pag-asa Island​


The Philippine Navy’s Naval Forces West, through a Britten Norman Islander aircraft, conducted a maritime air surveillance over Kalayaan Island Group and delivered equipment and supplies to Pagasa Island.

Naval Forces West said that on July 29 the Naval Air Operating Squadron–West conducted the said mission.

“The Britten Norman Islander aircraft piloted by Lcdr Jeffrey Guiquing PN as Pilot-in-Command, and Ltjg Gerard Bryan Potato PN as Co-Pilot led the mission to Naval Station Emilio Liwanag, Pag-asa Island, Kalayaan Island Group to deliver items from the Western Command such as care packages for our troops and equipment like television and searchlights to enhance the living condition and security of our brave soldiers in the island,” Naval Forces West said.

“Naval and maritime operations are undertaken by the Naval Forces West in support to the accomplishment of the Western Command’s missions,” it noted.

 

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China law requiring notice from vessels concerning, says top US Coast Guard exec​

By: Frances Mangosing - Reporter / @FMangosingINQ
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 06:37 PM September 03, 2021


MANILA, Philippines—A top US Coast Guard (USCG) official on Friday (Sept. 3) expressed concern over China’s new maritime law requiring foreign vessels to give notice before entering waters covered by China’s fictitious nine-dash line claim.
Vice Admiral Michael McAllister, commander of the USCG’s Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Force West, said the law “seems to run directly counter to international agreements and norms.”

“If our reading is correct, these are very concerning, and that’s because they begin to build foundations for instability and potential conflicts if those are enforced,” McAllister said in a teleconference.

China announced that beginning Wednesday, it will require foreign vessels “to report their detailed information” in areas that are part of its territorial waters.

The law would require notice for entry of non-Chinese vessels that included submersibles, nuclear vessels, ships carrying radioactive materials and ships carrying bulk oil, chemicals, liquefied gas and other toxic and harmful substances.

The extent of coverage of “territorial waters” was unclear, however, as China claims nearly the entire South China Sea as its territory through its nine-dash line fiction.



McAllister said USCG presence in the region was in part to show support to partners and allies facing China’s aggression and territorial expansion at sea.
He said the United States would continue to work with partners and allies with the goal of being the partner of coast guards in the region.

“Half the world’s commerce and half the world’s population are in the Indo-Pacific; and as leaders in maritime safety and security, we believe we have a role to play,” McAllister said. “And our chief role is to try to contribute to regional stability and security,” he said.

Early this week, the USCG cutter Munro held exercises with the Philippine Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The American ship arrived in the Western Pacific in mid-August and is under the command of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet in the coming months.

“We build and leverage partnerships to enhance the capability and capacity of partner nations to carry out missions that contribute to the common good, things like search-and-rescue, marine environmental protection, enforcing fisheries laws and treaties, addressing human smuggling, counter-drug, counterterrorism, disaster response, and others,” McAllister said.

 

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PH not abandoning Ayungin; US hits China ‘escalation’​

By: Leila B. Salaverria, Tina G. Santos - @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:42 AM November 20, 2021

Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal

In 1999, the Philippine Navy deliberately grounded the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal to mark the country’s claim to the reef in the Spratly archipelago. The 100-meter-long World War II-era tank landing ship hosts a small contingent of Philippine Marines. Ayungin, which China also claims, lies 195 kilometers southwest of Palawan, well within the country’s 370-km exclusive economic zone. (File photo by GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE / Philippine Daily Inquirer)
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will not abandon its outpost at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal despite attempts by China to block food and other supplies for the military detachment deployed there, Malacañang said on Friday.

Also on Friday, the United States expressed firm support for the Philippines, its treaty ally, following the latest blockading incident in which a Chinese Coast Guard ship blasted with a water cannon two Filipino supply vessels headed to the shoal on Tuesday night, damaging one and forcing both to return to Palawan.
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China: Pinoys ‘trespassed’​

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had conveyed the government’s “outrage, condemnation and protest” to Beijing, asserted the country’s sovereign right over the shoal as part of the Philippine continental shelf and it’s exclusive economic zone, and demanded the Chinese ships to leave.

China on Thursday defended the attack against the supply boats, saying they “trespassed” in Chinese waters and that its coast guard only “performed official duties in accordance with law” and “upheld China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime order.”


Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles on Friday said the government would continue to assert its sovereign rights over the shoal and its other territories, backing the “swift actions” of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

US hits ‘escalation’​

“No abandonment will happen. We will continue to do all we could and what we should to make sure the supplies reach our fellow Filipinos there,” Nograles said at a press briefing.


Locsin had reminded China that the Filipino boats were “public vessels” covered by the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty.

Reacting to the Nov. 16 incident, the US Department of State on Friday called the Chinese action an “escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability, escalates regional tensions, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as guaranteed under international law, and undermines the rules-based international order.”

“The United States stands with our Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order and reaffirms that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” state department spokesperson Ned Price said.

The Filipino vessels, which had been making monthly supply runs to the detachment, were also bringing workers who were to make repairs on the BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II-era ship that was intentionally ran aground at Ayungin in 1999 to turn it into an outpost at the shoal, about 260 kilometers west of Palawan’s Quezon town.

A group of Philippine Marines are manning the rusted ship.

A senior military official told the Inquirer that civilian rather than naval vessels had been used to bring supplies to the detachment “just to ease the tension” between the Chinese and Filipino forces in the waters near the shoal.

Why civilian boats​

Also, the smaller civilian boats could navigate the shoal’s shallow waters to reach the Sierra Madre. Supplies had also been dropped on the water close to the ship from military planes during a blockade.

Maritime law expert Prof. Jay Batongbacal said China “has become so used to” taking advantage of President Duterte’s weak stance on the West Philippine Sea.
He told CNN Philippines that after taking control of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in 2012, Beijing’s focus shifted to Ayungin Shoal and blockaded the outpost there in 2013 and 2014.

“They want to prevent the Philippines from maintaining that outpost and if they cannot interfere directly with say the Navy and Air Force, what they are trying to do now is to starve the outpost essentially so that they would be the ones to voluntarily leave,” he said.

In a separate interview with ANC, he said the Duterte administration did not take a strong stand against Chinese intrusion into Philippine waters.

“Now we have trouble pushing back, to recover, because we have allowed them to come so close, we have given them so much that they now don’t want to let go,” said Batongbacal, director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the University of the Philippines.

Magdalo Rep. Manuel Cabochan on Friday said the government should “be more assertive in protecting our sovereignty.”

“It is obvious that China intends to force us out of our territory in the West Philippine Sea. We must not let this happen and defend what is ours according to international law,” Cabochan said.

Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, a former foreign secretary, said the issue should not be allowed to escalate.

The fishers group Pamalakaya, said the Chinese actions at Ayungin Shoal were the same type of bombardments that fishermen from Zambales, Pangasinan and Bataan had been subjected to by the Chinese to drive them away from Panatag Shoal’s rich fishing grounds, about 220 kilometers west of Masinloc, Zambales province.

This happened on Jan. 27, 2014, and again on April 9, 2015 when the Chinese Coast Guard repeatedly fired their water cannons at about 80 Filipino fishermen, said Pamalakaya chair Bobby Roldan. —WITH REPORTS FROM JULIE M. AURELIO, ROMAR MIRANDA AND JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT

 

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China wants Ayungin ship gone since ’99​

By: Ana Mae Roa - @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:36 AM November 27, 2021
BRP-Sierra-Madre-at-Ayungin-Shoal.jpeg

RESUPPLY MISSION Philippine Marine troops stationed on the grounded and rusting BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal receive fresh supplies in this photo taken on March 29, 2014. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — The BRP Sierra Madre, a former World War II-era ship that is now a rusting military outpost on a shallow reef west of Palawan province, has become the symbol of Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.

Since it ran aground in 1999 at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, which is about 196 kilometers from Palawan and well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), China has repeatedly demanded its removal, claiming that the area was part of its territory.
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Following the Nov. 16 incident in which three Chinese coast guard ships prevented the resupply of a military detachment on the Sierra Madre with a water cannon attack on two Filipino civilian boats carrying food for the Marines, the Philippine government said it had no plans to abandon the shoal and was determined to keep the detachment there.

In a statement on Friday during the Asia-Europe Meeting, President Rodrigo Duterte thanked countries that expressed support for the Philippines over the incident.

Ping calls for 2nd ship​

He stressed that the South China Sea must remain “a sea of peace, stability and prosperity.”
“There can be no real peace if the strong trample on the weak—just because it can,” he said.



Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, head of the Senate national defense and security committee, filed a resolution on Friday calling on all senators to condemn the “continued presence and hostile acts” of Chinese vessels within the country’s EEZ and “thwart” further Chinese bullying in Philippine waters.

The resolution also urged the government to “fortify, amplify and enhance our positions in the West Philippine Sea through defense and security agreements with other nations.” Lacson had proposed refurbishing the ship and deploying another one to the shoal.

In a response, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the acting presidential spokesperson, on Friday said the government was continuously modernizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines and that “in conducting our AFP modernization, this includes our naval assets.”

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson this week said the Philippines made a “commitment” to remove the Sierra Madre. But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denied that Manila made such a commitment.

Earlier China demand​

On March 14, 2014, when China also demanded the pullout of the Sierra Madre, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) told Beijing that the Ayungin Shoal was part of the country’s continental shelf over which it had sovereign rights and jurisdiction.
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It said the Philippines never made an “unequivocal commitment” to pull out of the shoal, as China had claimed a day earlier.

“The BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine Naval vessel, was placed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent Philippine government installation in response to China’s illegal occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995,” the DFA said.

The statement was issued five days after Chinese ships for the first time in 15 years intervened in the delivery of supplies to Filipino troops stationed on the decrepit ship. Later on March 29, 2014, in another attempt, a supply boat was able to slip past the Chinese ships to deliver food and replacement troops to the Sierra Madre after a dramatic two-hour standoff.

Ayungin Shoal is a strategic gateway to Reed Bank, believed to be rich in oil and natural gas. Beijing says the shoal is part of the Spratlys, a group of 250 islets spread over 427,350 square kilometers in the South China Sea and claimed entirely by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and in part by Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

Commissioned by the United States in 1944 as the USS Harnet County, the landing ship tank was first used during World War II. It participated in the assault on Okinawa Gunto, Japan, in 1945. It was decommissioned by the US Navy in 1946.

Reused for Vietnam War​

The vessel was recommissioned in August 1966 for the Vietnam War. It was decommissioned again in October 1970 in Guam.

In April 1976, the Philippine government acquired it under Washington’s Foreign Military Sales program. The vessel was renamed BRP Sierra Madre, also known as LT 57, and joined the Philippine Navy in 1979.

The ship, which was supposedly on its way to Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, struck a shallow reef at Ayungin Shoal on May 9, 1999. Six days after running aground, Navy officials accused two Chinese frigates of training their guns on the distressed ship.

The Sierra Madre sounded its alarm, and the Chinese frigates headed toward Panganiban (Mischief) Reef where the Chinese had fortified buildings they claimed they built as shelters for fishermen four years earlier.

Panganiban is now one of the largest artificial islands built by the Chinese who use it as an air and naval outpost in the South China Sea.

Request to tow​

On Nov. 2 ,1999, the Inquirer reported that Manila had turned down Beijing’s request to tow the Sierra Madre out of the shoal.

“We told them that the Philippines is also claiming the territory and that repairs on the ship have yet to be finished,’’ a senior DFA official was quoted as saying.
Then Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said that lack of parts for the vintage ship was delaying repairs. “But in due time, we will be able to restore the ship,” he said.

On Nov. 3, 1999, another naval vessel, the BRP Benguet, ran aground at Panatag Shoal but Mercado, seeking to allay fears it could add further tension, said that the ship’s primary mission was to transport Navy personnel and cargo and that it was responding to a distress call by a local fishing boat when it got stranded.

China had complained over its grounding and urged Philippine authorities to remove it before the visit of Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji to Manila to attend a summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations hosted by the Philippines.

Then military chief Gen. Angelo Reyes reported that the Benguet was extricated on Nov. 29. —WITH REPORTS FROM DJ YAP, JULIE M. AURELIO AND INQUIRER RESEARCH


 

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Maritime expert: Beware of Beijing as election nears​

By: Jeannette I. Andrade - Reporter / @jiandradeINQ
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:36 AM November 26, 2021
The BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines — An international maritime law expert sees China exploiting next year’s leadership change in the Philippines to further assert its claims to the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

University of the Philippines (UP) law professor Jay Batongbacal on Thursday said that the country’s rights and entitlements in the West Philippine Sea under international law may not survive another six years of “official neglect and lack of adequate protection” and a continuation of President Duterte’s “policy of appeasement” toward Beijing.
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“We cannot elect a president and vice president who will again take the defeatist stance against our increasingly assertive neighbor,” Batongbacal said. “Next year, 2022, we’re actually likely to see China become even more assertive and insistent on its excessive claims.”

‘Gray zone’ tactic​

Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, spoke at the Pilipinas Conference 2021 on multilateralism, foreign policy and security outlook for 2022.


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He cited last week’s Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal incident as a “very, very clear indication that China intends to continue using gray zone operations to squeeze us out of the WPS and the Kalayaan island group.”

‘Cabbage’ strategy​

He said the “gray zone” tactic being employed by China was meant to acquire control and dominance over large areas of the sea while avoiding conditions that would enable the Philippines to take measures for its defense.



China was also using the “cabbage strategy” to insert layers upon layers of Chinese vessels to surround Philippine outposts and features, constricting Filipino activities in these waters.

Tensions flare up​

The Chinese also are ramping up civilian activities by deploying their coast guard, marine research vessels, resource exploitation and oil exploration.

“Elections create an opportunity that could be exploited at a time when government and its responses will be slow and uncertain. Tensions in the South China sea tend to flare up during the summer months before the typhoon season which coincides with election season,” he pointed out.

“Last week’s incident at Ayungin Shoal demonstrated that China will not lose an opportunity to change the status quo in its favor by cutting off resupply lines to the Sierra Madre,” he said, referring to the ship being used as a Philippine military outpost at the shoal.

Moves on Panatag​

In 2016, also an election year, China mobilized for the reclamation of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to convert it into another artificial island.
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Batongbacal said the two shoals “represent potential crisis points that can be instigated to occur during that time of power transition and we must be prepared for it.”

Security forces should be extra vigilant in these areas and should closely coordinate with the country’s allies to fill in the gaps in our maritime domain awareness so immediate action could be taken, he said.

This is meant “to prevent an induced crisis that could result in either the loss of our presence in Second Thomas Shoal or the potential conversion of Scarborough Shoal into an artificial island.”

“If either happens, that will represent another major setback and a major loss for us,” Batongbacal said.

 

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I think Navalnews must have made a mistake with regard to what's East and what's West.
 

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