The Western Command (WESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has confirmed the directing of gun control director by a Chinese PLA Navy corvette with bow number 514 at BRP Conrado Yap (PS39) while conducting Territorial Defense Operations (TDO) and sovereignty patrol at Malampaya Natural Gas to Power Project (MNGPP) and at the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), West Philippine Sea on February 17. WESCOM also described the incident as hostile act.
“Based on the report from Joint Task Force West, PS39 departed Puerto Princesa City pier on February 15, 2020 to conduct Territorial Defense Operations (TDO) and sovereignty patrol at Malampaya Natural Gas to Power Project (MNGPP) and at the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), WPS,” WESCOM said.
“On February 17, 2020, while PS39 is underway to Rizal Reef Detachment, they detected a radar contact of a gray colored vessel. PS39 was first to issue radio challenge on which the vessel responded “the Chinese government has imputable sovereignty over the South China Sea, its islands and its adjacent waters”. PS39 again challenged the vessel and then instructed to proceed directly to its next destination. That vessel repeated its response and maintained her course and speed,” it added.
“Significantly, PS39 was able to identify the said vessel as PLAN Vessel bearing a bow number 514 (Corvette warship). There, PS39 was able to visually observed that the Gun Control Director, an equipment that gives information in obtaining a fire control solution of said PLAN vessel was directed towards PS39. This Gun Control Director can be used to designate and track targets and makes all the main guns ready to fire in under a second,” WESCOM explained.
“According to Joint Task Force West, while PS39 does not have the Electronic Support Measures (ESM) to confirm that PLAN Gun Control Director was directed towards her, visual identification confirms this hostile intent. This hostile act on the part of Chinese Government and encroachment within the Philippines’ EEZ is perceived as a clear violation of international law and Philippine Sovereignty,” WESCOM said.
WESCOM said that after the incident, both vessels continued with their voyage.
It assured that as AFP’s primary unit in the West Philippine Sea, it will continue to perform its duty and will never be intimidated nor let guards down in protecting the sovereignty and integrity of the country. It added that it supports any future capability upgrade of ships patrolling Philippine waters.