The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has reported another close distance maneuver involving a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel on March 2, 2022, when one of its ships, the BRP Malabrigo, was conducting maritime patrol operations in Bajo de Masinloc.
The PCG stated in a news release on Sunday that its crew were monitoring a CCG vessel with the bow number 3305 as it maneuvered near BRP Malabrigo for roughly 21 yards as it was cruising in the vicinity waters off Bajo de Masinloc.
It said there was a clear violation of the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) when the BRP Malabrigo couldn’t move freely.
Admiral Artemio M. Abu, the commandant of the PCG, said that this was the fourth time that CCG vessels in Bajo de Masinloc had to maneuver closely.
On May 19, 2021, a PCG-manned BFAR vessel, MCS-3005, reported the first time a CCG vessel with bow number 3301 came very close to the BFAR vessel.
The second and third incidents involved two CCG vessels (3301 and 3103) conducting close distance maneuvering with BRP Capones (MRRV-4404) and BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) on June 1 and 2 last year near Bajo de Masinloc during the PCG’s maritime capacity enhancement exercises.
“The behavior of the involved CCG vessels increased the risk of collision with four of our capital ships,” Abu said in their statement.
He said the PCG immediately coordinated with the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) “to address this issue through rules-based and peaceful approaches.”
Meanwhile, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade has directed the PCG to continue upholding its mission of promoting the safety of life and property at sea and enforcing all applicable laws within the Philippine waters in support of national development.
“We are fully aware of dangerous situations at sea, but these will not stop our deployment of assets and personnel in Bajo de Masinloc, Philippine Rise, and other parts of the country’s exclusive economic zones (EEZ),” Abu said.
“We will continue to work silently and diligently for we are serving Filipino fishermen at sea. As long as they feel safe seeing us during their fishing operations, we know that we are doing our job well,” he added.