CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City, Philippines—The leader of the military’s Northern
Luzon Command has belied China’s claim it had withdrawn most of its vessels
in the Panatag Shoal.
Nolcom chief Lieutenant General Anthony Alcantara said the Chinese embassy was
“not telling the truth” when it said that only one Chinese Maritime
Surveillance Ship remained at Panatag—called Huangyan Island by China—for
its “law enforcement missions.”
In a briefing for defense reporters here, Alcantara said at least seven
Chinese vessels remained in the vicinity of the contested shoal, known
internationally as Scarborough Shoal, including two small fishing boats
anchored on the lagoon and three other fishing vessels off the sandbar.
Alcantara said two Chinese maritime ships, the FLEC 310, a gunboat which the
Chinese insisted was just a fishery administration vessel, and one of three
Chinese Maritime Surveillance Ships, or CMS 71, were sighted in the Panatag
waters as of 8 p.m. Monday.
Two more surveillance ships, the CMS 84 and 75, have not been spotted since
disappearing over the weekend but were believed to just be replenishing
provisions and refueling somewhere in the Chinese mainland, he added.
The presence of the ships, according to Alcantara, belied a statement from the
Chinese embassy on Monday afternoon that only one surveillance ship remained
in the area, and that the two others had been recalled.
In a statement sent by e-mail to reporters at 6:13 p.m. on Monday, Chinese
embassy spokesperson Zhang Hua said only one Chinese Maritime Surveillance
Ship remained at Panatag.
“The withdrawal of the two ships proves once again China is not escalating
the situation as some people said, but de-escalating the situation,” Zhang
But Alcantara said one of the Chinese surveillance vessels, the CMS 71, was
about 12 nautical miles southeast of the Philippine Coast Guard ship BRP
Pampanga, which was standing watch over Panatag, while the FLEC 310, also
called Yuzheng 310, was about eight nautical miles southeast of the shoal.
On the other hand, on the Philippine side, only a Coast Guard ship, the BRP
Pampanga, and a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ship, the MCS3006,
which arrived on Monday, are in the Panatag waters to stand guard, he said.
“Right now the situation in the area is stable. There is no untoward incident
right now. What we’re taking care of and what were watching out for is our
Philippine fishermen,” Alcantara said, deflecting questions on whether there
was still a “standoff.”
“Because of diplomatic talks in progress, we’re avoiding any untoward
incident. There’s a standstill but I think they have stopped taking corals
and the like. Those things have stopped. What’s going on is normal fishing (
by the Chinese) in the area,” for their food, he said.
“We also challenge some of them from time to time,” Alcantara said but did
菲佣表示TG“not telling the truth”
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