Philippines sending Coast Guard, BFAR ships to reef

  • To avoid being accused of provocation by Beijing, the military will not send naval ships to the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) now being swarmed by Chinese vessels and instead just let Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) or Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels assert the country’s sovereignty in the area.
  • Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana pointed this out on 29 Mar 21 in an interview with CNN Philippines. But he stressed the Navy “will be patrolling the area, the general vicinity of the area.”
  • As this developed, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that the United States “stands with our ally the Philippines” in the face of China’s latest maritime intrusion.
  • “We don’t want to be accused of provoking, retaining our Navy ships in the area,” Lorenzana said.
  • Deployment of naval vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef might be misinterpreted as “militarizing the area,” he said.
  • He said the country is calling for the pullout of the Chinese vessels and that President Duterte himself has spoken with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian about the matter.
  • The Chinese ambassador promised to relay Duterte’s concerns to Beijing, Lorenzana said, adding there are fewer than 200 Chinese vessels now in the vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef.

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