China Coast Guard (CCG) ship 3306, the same vessel that was spotted near Ayungin Shoal last week by the military, was sighted again within the country’s territorial waters in the eastern edge of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) in Hasa-Hasa or Half Moon Shoal from August 25-27.
Confirming the report, Western Command (WESCOM) spokesperson Lt. Col. Stephen Penetrante said the sightings had already been reported to their “higher command for proper action”.
“‘Yong presence ng China Coast Guard vessel na ‘yan ay nai-report na natin sa higher headquarters upang mai-recommend kung ano na ‘yong nararapat na aksyon ng ating nga mga authorized government agencies, lalung-lalo na ‘yong Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) at ‘yong Philippine Coast Guard regarding ‘yong presence doon sa Hasa-Hasa Shoal,” he said.
Reliable sources of Palawan News claimed the CCG ship was first spotted on August 25, then on August 26 at around 10 a.m., at an estimated distance of one nautical mile southeast of Hasa-Hasa Shoal, and the last on August 27.
“Kahapon (August 27) na-monitor natin — usually, ‘yong dating vessel din kasi palipat-lipat sila dyan sa area, depende sa plano nila,” Penetrante said.
Hasa-Hasa, also known as Half Moon Shoal, just 60 nautical miles off mainland Palawan is part of China’s and the Philippines’ competing claims in the WPS.
In 2014, some 11 Chinese fishermen aboard Qiongqionghai were arrested in the shoal by the PNP Maritime Group for poaching around 500 sea turtles.
Their arrest made it apparent that Hasa-Hasa was being used then as a trading center for sea turtle trafficking between unscrupulous Filipino fishermen and Chinese buyers.
In 2012, Chinese navy vessel 560 also ran aground in the area followed in August 2018 by Philippine Navy vessel FF15.