PH Coast Guard disperses China, Vietnam ships off Palawan coast

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) recently dispersed seven foreign vessels seen in waters near the vicinity of Marie Louise Bank, off the coast of El Nido, Palawan.

In a video of the PCG operation conducted on June 30 and shared on Sunday, July 4, a voice onboard the PCG's BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) could be heard telling nearby ships, “This is Philippine Coast BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409), you are within Philippine exclusive economic zone.” 

The PCG said that based on monitoring via radar and automatic identification system (AIS), the vessels seen included five Chinese ships and two Vietnamese ships. 

The PCG radioed the foreign vessels to request it disclose the name of the ship, intention for being in Philippine waters, as well as last and next port of call. 

“Said PCG vessel utilized Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) to conduct radio challenge to said vessels, in accordance with the PCG Manual on Rules on the Use of Force within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone,” the PCG said on Sunday. 

Marie Louise Bank, a feature in in the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratlys), is located 147 nautical miles off the coast of El Nido. 

This is not the first time the PCG dispersed foreign ships found in Philippine waters. 

In two instances in late April, the coast guard challenged several Chinese maritime militia vessels seen moored in Sabina (Escoda) Shoal near Palawan. The PCG’s BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) had also been involved in the operation.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said the seven Chinese ships spotted in the shoal on April 27 initially did not respond. But after waiting 20 minutes, the Philippines’ ships approached the vessels, which “immediately dispersed and left the shoal.”

Five more Chinese ships spotted in the shoal two day later on April 29, also left the shoal upon the arrival of the PCG ship. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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