Philippines boosts naval presence in disputed South China Sea
Bangkok, Apr 21 (EFE).- The Philippines Wednesday warned that it would send new ships and planes to boost its naval presence in the South China Sea amid growing Chinese influence in the disputed maritime waters.
The Philippines has staged dozens of diplomatic protests against China over the “threatening” presence of its military and fishing vessels within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
China has repeatedly ignored the claims.
The Philippine task force to coordinate the governmental policy on the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea, Wednesday said it would increase the deployment of ships and aircraft for the “safety of life at the sea.”
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) comprises officials from foreign affairs, national defense, environment, and natural resources, energy, trade and industry, transportation and communications, the military, the police and fisheries, and aquatic departments.
In addition to monitoring Chinese vessel incursions into Philippine waters, the NTF-WPS has also sought to intensify operations against alleged illegal fishing by Chinese vessels that intimidate the Filipino fishermen.
The task force, which denounced last week that at least 240 Chinese-flagged ships were in Philippine waters, noted that the country would exhaust all means to protect its territory and EEZ.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei claim parts of the strategic sea, which serves as a passage for 30 percent of the global trade and is home to 12 percent of the worldwide fish resources, apart from housing oil and gas reserves.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire area.
The Philippines is the only country that has a ruling to support its claims.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled against Chinese claims on the South China Sea and backed Manila in a case filed three years ago.
The court ruled that the Chinese claims of historic rights within the nine-dash line, which Beijing uses to demarcate the disputed maritime territory, were without legal foundation.
China did not recognize the ruling and continued its military and fishing activities within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, 200 miles from its coast. EFE