Monday, 07 March 2011 14:30
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Saturday it deployed three patrol vessels to secure a government oil survey ship reportedly harassed by two Chinese patrol boats near a disputed area of the South China Sea.
PCG chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said two vessels with divers and medical teams on board and a surveillance vessel have been sent to patrol waters off the southwestern province of Palawan and assist the government-contracted ship on a seismic survey in the strategic area.
The Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), has filed a diplomatic protest with China and demanded an explanation for the incident on Wednesday near the disputed Spratly group of islands that are claimed by the Philippines, China and some other neighboring nations.
Tamayo said that in support of the government’s energy exploration project, Coast Guard Vessels BRP San Juan (SARV 001), BRP Nueva Viscaya (SARV 3502), and joint PCG-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-manned MCS 3002 have been specifically tasked to conduct maritime patrols and assist DOE-contracted survey vessels.
He said these include those currently undertaking marine seismic survey within the area of Reed Bank, west of Palawan which earlier reported being harassed by Chinese vessels.
PCG pointed out the Reed Bank is only some 80 nautical miles west of mainland Palawan.
The PCG also said it has stepped up its campaign against poachers around the country in coordination or jointly with the BFAR.
Last Friday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Department of Energy research vessel remains within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
By Joel C. Atencio-PNA
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