MANILA, Philippines – From two last week, China has increased its government vessels in the disputed Scarborough Shoal to 4, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez said Wednesday, May 2.
Hernandez also said 8 Chinese fishing boats remain in the area, bringing the number of Chinese vessels to 12 as of posting time.
China's most advanced fishery patrol ship, Yuzheng 310, is still in Scarborough Shoal. This is the same ship that allegedly “bullied” several Filipino vessels in the area, based on DFA's assessment – something that China dismissed as “sheer subjective assumption.”
Still in Scarborough Shoal, too, are Chinese maritime surveillance ships 71, 75, and 85, Hernandez said.
The Philippines, on the other hand, has two government vessels in the area – BRP Edsa Dos and a vessel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. In terms of fishing boats, the Philippines has 3, the DFA spokesperson noted.
Last week, China claimed it pulled out its ships from Scarborough Shoal, but Philippine authorities reported seeing at least two Chinese government vessels and 5 fishing boats in the area.
Doubts vs PNoy
“We hope the Philippine side would act as it speaks and take concrete measures to stop provoking incidents in the area, so as to resume peace and stability around Huangyan Island,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said.
Meanwhile, another claimant to Scarborough Shoal – Taiwan – has also reaffirmed its supposed ownership of the area.
The Scarborough Shoal dispute enters its 4th week after the Philippines and the United States agreed to strengthen maritime presence in Philippine waters.
Security analyst Rommel Banlaoi, however, cautions the Philippines against US involvement in the issue.
“Dragging the US into our bilateral conflicts with China can only complicate things,” Banlaoi said in a Thought Leaders piece for Rappler. “The Philippines can enlarge our voice in Asean if Asean can come up with a common position.” – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.