“We don’t know that yet. Speculation lang iyon eh. As I’ve said, kung sino iyong nagbabantay doon, alam nila kung may threat o wala; and they will do and respond accordingly,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said when asked regarding the report by Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI)/Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that some Chinese fishing boats in Spratly Islands are not really fishing.
He added that he is certain that the Department of National Defense is already conducting its own investigation.
AMTI /CSIS said overall, the Chinese fleet in the Spratlys spends far less time fishing and far more time at anchor than is typical of vessels elsewhere.
“This gross overcapacity combined with their tendency to congregate around both Chinese-occupied reefs and those held by other claimants leads to the conclusion that most of these vessels serve, at least part-time, in China’s maritime militia,” the report added.
“The activities of the militia are well-documented—they engage in patrol, surveillance, resupply, and other missions to bolster China’s presence in contested waters in the South and East China Seas,” it added.
“Beijing makes no secret of their existence, and some of the best-trained and best-equipped members engage in overt paramilitary activities such as the harassment of foreign vessels operating near Chinese-held islets or dangerous standoffs with vessels from neighboring states as occurred in 2014 when China deployed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam. But this analysis indicates that their numbers in the Spratly Islands are much larger and much more persistent than is generally understood,” AMTI/CSIS added.
Sources: https://pcoo.gov.ph/press-briefing/press-briefing-of-presidential-spokesperson-and-chief-presidential-legal-counsel-secretary-salvador-panelo-21/; https://ocean.csis.org/spotlights/illuminating-the-south-china-seas-dark-fishing-fleets/