Expressing concern over the reported presence of Chinese militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Palawan provincial legislators have asked the Western Command (WESCOM) to give them a security briefing on the situation.
Board Member Juan Antonio Alvarez, chair of the committee on peace and order, said they view the incident as “alarming”.
“Ever since na may ganyang incident ay alarming na. We don’t know their motive, the reason na nandyan sila,” he said.
Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed a diplomatic protest over the confirmed presence of some 220 Chinese militia fishing vessels near Julian Felipe Reef on March 7.
Alvarez pointed out that China continues to defy the ruling of the international arbitrial tribunal that WPS is within the area of the Philippines, and lays claims over the Philippine-owned areas.
“Panalo na nga tayo laban sa kanila, alam na nila ‘yon pero bakit ganyan pa rin sila. The fact na nandiyan sila ay talagang gusto nilang angkinin,” Alvarez said.
“Kapag may mangyari na hindi inaasahan ay tayo ang unang tatamaan dahil nandito na sa atin. Isa pa, the fact we are supporting the national government ay we are also fighting our right,” he added.
“[The right office who] can give us an update kung ano talaga ang nangyayari doon ay ang Western Command. We will send an invitation today at hopefully next week ay magappear sila sa ating committee meeting,” Alvarez said.
Julian Felipe Reef also known as Whitsun Reef is a large boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef located at approximately 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.
The presence of Chinese vessels in the waters off WPS is the latest aggression after the recorded sightings near Pag-asa Island during the construction of beaching ramp in 2019.
According to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), the vessels are lined up within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.