Around 220 Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) Vessels were spotted at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said.
“The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) received a confirmed report from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that around two hundred twenty (220) Chinese Fishing Vessels (CFVs), believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were sighted moored in line formation at the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) on March 7, 2021,” the NTF-WPS said in statement released through the Presidential Communications office.
According to the government, Julian Felipe Reef is a large boomerang shaped shallow coral reef at the northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs (Union Reefs), located approximately 175 Nautical Miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.
It noted that the said reef is within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS), over which the country enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources which encompass both living resources, such as fish, and non-living resources such as oil and natural gas.
“Despite clear weather at the time, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef showed no actual fishing activities and had their full white lights turned on during night time. The NTF-WPS notes this circumstance as a concern due to the possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment, as well as risks to safety of navigation,” the NTF-WPS added.
It said that the government will continue to monitor the situation as it remains steadfast in its duty to protect Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights in the country’s maritime domain.
“In consonance with the Philippine commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Government shall continue to peacefully and proactively pursue its initiatives on environmental protection, food security and freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea as part of its overall national security policy,” it explained.