Chinese warship sighting off Scarborough Shoal not new: DND

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said there is nothing new with the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) sighting report of a Chinese warship off Scarborough Shoal (locally known as Bajo De Masinloc) as other naval craft and fishing vessels are known to pass the said waterway.

Lorenzana also said there is nothing disturbing with this as vessels from many other nations are known to routinely pass through the area.

“We see US ships (passing there), we see other ships passing through, this is not the first time (such warship sighting reports were made known to us), remember the time that a US and Chinese warships nearly collided (last October) with each other (in the South China Sea) (Chinese ships) have been always there but these are not always Navy ships but their Coast Guard and large fishing boats,” said Lorenzana in Filipino.

Earlier, the PCG’s BRP Malabrigo (MRRV-4402) which conducted a patrol from last Thursday to Sunday off Scarborough Shoal spotted a Chinese warship along with two Chinese Coast Guard vessels and two militia craft some 12 nautical miles from the fishing ground.

When asked if the Philippines prefers to deploy Coast Guard ships to patrol Scarborough Shoal and its vicinity to avoid the flaring up of tensions, the DND chief said Navy ships often go out and monitor the West Philippine Sea.

“We send and deploy a lot of our ships in the vicinity of Scarborough (Shoal), Mischief Reef, and Pag-asa Island,” he added.

Lorenzana also downplayed a repeat of the Scarborough Shoal stand-off in 2012 as both China and the Philippines know exactly where its vessels or forces are deployed.

“The agreement there is nobody moves (from their designated position), (just) stay where you are, you can improve, but nobody will take new positions,” the DND chief stressed. PNA