Philippines flags “invasion” by nearly 300 militia vessels

Manila-Philippines reported on Wednesday signs that 287 maritime militia vessels from China had invaded the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and that the relationship had reappeared after a period of settlement.

“The incident was submitted to relevant agencies for possible diplomatic action, along with continued illegal invasion of foreign vessels witnessed near the islands owned by the Philippines,” the South China Sea task force said in a statement. Said.

The Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly complained that Chinese vessels “exist and threaten” in China’s EEZ in recent weeks, demanding their withdrawal.

The Philippines has recently increased its presence in the South China Sea through “sovereign patrols.” Critics have accused it of being lacking under pro-Chinese president Rodrigo Duterte, who has garnered domestic criticism for refusing to stand up. To Beijing.

There was no immediate response to the request for comment from the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

According to experts, Chinese fishing vessels and the Coast Guard are at the heart of strategic ambitions in the South China Sea, maintaining a constant presence that complicates fishing and offshore energy activities by other coastal nations.

Chinese officials have previously denied that militias are on board fishing vessels.

Duterte said last week that the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s groundbreaking decision in 2016, which favored the Philippines in a dispute with China, was just a “sheet of paper” that he could throw in the trash. , Caused a fuss.

The referee also ruled that China’s allegations against almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $ 3 trillion worth of shipboard trade passes each year, have no legal basis.

Defense and security analyst Jose Antonio Custódio said Duterte’s comments “cancel” the harsher tone of his best diplomats and defense ministers in China.

“We don’t have a unity in messaging,” Custódio said. “It encourages China’s actions.”

Karen Rema