Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff General Cirilito Sobejana, in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source on May 10, said that 10 Philippine Navy ships are deployed under the AFP Western Command (WESCOM) “purposely for our sovereignty patrol in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).”
“There are still Chinese vessels from their coast guard, from their navy, some are militias, some are fishermen. I would suggest that the figures will be taken from NTF-WPS (National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea) dahil ‘yun ang usapan namin,” General Sobejana also said.
“From the Armed Forces we have 10 navy ships that are now placed under the operational control of Western Command. The Western Command commander is the designated head of operations of the NTF-WPS,” he said.
General Sobejana also said that they are maintaining 3 to 4 Philippine Air Force (PAF) planes in Puerto Princesa.
“We have Air Force planes deployed in WESCOM area. They are based in Puerto Princsesa,” the AFP chief said.
He also said that PAF assets based at Villamor Air Base and Mactan Air Base can easily be deployed to the West Philippine Sea.
General Sobejana also said that Chinese navy and coast guard vessels continue to challenge Philippine military vessels. “Sa surface patrols lang madalas may challenges. May template na itong Chinese navy, coast guard na: “This is our territory, get out of here.” But we are not intimidated by those challenges,” he said.
However, Sobejana said that they are also challenging Chinese vessels. “We challenge them also, invoking that the West Philippine Sea is within our exclusive economic zone. So it is our territory. Sila dapat ang umalis dahil pumasok sila sa teritoryo natin,” he said.
General Sobejana explained that the Philippine Navy is supporting the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) which are the main effort in exercising police power in West Philippine Sea.