Saturday, April 13, 2013

Chinese vessels continue to stay at Panatag Shoal a year after tension between Manila, Beijing

Chinese vessels continue to remain at the Panatag (Scarborough) shoal—claimed by both the Philippines and China—more than a year after Beijing blocked Manila from arresting its nationals caught poaching on local waters. 

Two China Marine Surveillance (CMS) vessels and a Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) ship are still in the disputed area, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Friday. 

For its part, the Philippines maintains its naval and air assets in the area. No recent tension or standoff has yet been reported.

"They are there, but we don't want to escalate the problem. We have done our part by submitting this matter to an international court of arbitration so that we can resolve this peacefully," Gazmin said.

On April 10, 2012, tension erupted between the Manila and Beijing when a Philippine Navy ship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen who
illegally collected corals, giant clams, and live sharks in the area but was blocked by Chinese vessels.

Gazmin dismissed speculations that China was already controlling the area. He also denied that Philippines has weakened its stance on Panatag Shoal.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government has still yet to identify the two foreign aircraft that intruded into Philippine air space last week. The two unidentified aircraft flew at high-speed over Philippines' Pag-asa Island.

"That is the sad truth about these things. We admit...we cannot file the necessary complaint because we have not identified the nationality of these aircraft," Gazmin said.-Interaksyon (April 12, 2013)

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