Worries Over Chinese Warships in Scarborough Shoal – Marcos

This handout photo taken on February 22, 2024 and received on February 25, 2024 from the Philippine Coast Guard shows a China Coast Guard vessel sailing near the BRP Datu Sanday during their mission to bring supplies to fishermen near the China-controlled Scarborough Shoal in the disputed South China Sea. AFP PHOTO / Philippine Coast Guard
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In a recent statement, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed his concern over the reported presence of Chinese warships and a helicopter near Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal. While acknowledging that the situation in the disputed waters has changed due to the presence of China’s Navy, President Marcos emphasized that the Philippines will continue to defend its maritime territory.

President Marcos highlighted the significance of this development, stating, “It’s worrisome because there are two elements to that. One, before it was just the Chinese Coast Guard moving in our area, now it is the Navy with the fishing boats. So the situation is changing.” This shift in the nature of Chinese presence raises concerns about the escalating tensions in the region.

The Philippine government is closely monitoring the situation and remains committed to protecting its maritime territory. President Marcos emphasized that the country will continue to support its fishermen who rely on these fishing grounds for their livelihood. The Philippines recognizes the importance of safeguarding its territorial integrity while ensuring the well-being of its citizens who depend on these waters for their sustenance.

Commodore Jay Tarriela, the Philippine Coast Guard spokesman for the West Philippine Sea, provided additional details about the presence of Chinese warships and a helicopter near Scarborough Shoal. According to Tarriela, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has monitored three People’s Liberation Army Navy warships in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc, along with a Chinese Navy helicopter.

Tarriela clarified that the Chinese warships maintained a distance of more than 20 nautical miles from the shoal. He also emphasized the Philippines’ territorial sovereignty over the waters within Bajo de Masinloc, which extends up to 12 nautical miles. This reaffirmation of territorial rights underscores the Philippines’ commitment to upholding its sovereignty in the face of external threats.

Furthermore, Tarriela noted, “This is the first time that we have sighted this kind of aircraft in the area.” The presence of a Chinese Navy helicopter raises additional concerns about the intentions and activities of China in the disputed waters. It highlights the need for heightened vigilance and a comprehensive understanding of the evolving dynamics in the region.

The reported presence of Chinese warships and a helicopter near Scarborough Shoal underscores the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea. The Philippines, like other countries in the region, is navigating a complex geopolitical landscape while safeguarding its national interests. The government’s commitment to defending its maritime territory and supporting its fishermen reflects its determination to protect its sovereignty and ensure the well-being of its citizens.

As the situation continues to evolve, it is crucial for all parties involved to engage in peaceful dialogue and adhere to international laws and norms. The Philippines remains committed to a diplomatic resolution to the disputes in the South China Sea, while actively asserting its rights and interests. The international community plays a significant role in promoting stability and ensuring the peaceful coexistence of nations in this vital maritime region.

In conclusion, President Marcos’s expression of concern over the presence of Chinese warships and a helicopter near Scarborough Shoal highlights the changing dynamics in the disputed waters. The Philippines will continue to defend its maritime territory and support its fishermen who rely on these waters for their livelihood. The government’s commitment to safeguarding its sovereignty and engaging in peaceful dialogue underscores the importance of international cooperation in maintaining stability in the South China Sea. By upholding its rights and interests, the Philippines aims to contribute to a peaceful and prosperous future for the region.

Source: The Manila Times

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