Manila, Oct 24 (EFE).- The Philippine coast guard was preparing Tuesday to increase maritime patrols in disputed areas in the South China Sea following two recent collisions between Philippine and Chinese vessels.
“There will be more patrols in the West Philippine Sea (what Manila calls the South China Sea),” sources from the Philippine Coast Guard told EFE on Tuesday amid an escalation of tensions between Manila and Beijing in the wake of the collisions on Sunday.
Both countries have trade accusations over the incident and blame each other for raising maritime tensions.
Videos released by Philippine authorities show a slight collision between a Philippine coast guard patrol boat and a Chinese vessel and a small Philippine boat (Unaiza May 2) apparently being harassed by two Chinese vessels.
National Security Council assistant director general Jonathan Malaya said on Tuesday during an interview with Philippine broadcaster ABS-CBN that the collision “was caused by dangerous maneuvres of Chinese coastguard vessels acting in concert with the Chinese maritime militia.”
The Chinese vessels were allegedly near the Second Thomas Shoal – where the crashes occurred on Sunday – as well as others that are disputed, such as the Scarborough and Escoda shoals.
All these areas are about 1000 miles from the Chinese coast and less than 200 miles from the western coast of the Philippines, which is the limit established by the UN as a legitimate maritime boundary between both states.
According to Malaya, the Philippine government is “alarmed by the environmental degradation that our coastguard ships were able to monitor in these areas”.
“This is a battle for the resources of our country, particularly those of our fishermen,” he added.
The relationship between Philippines and China has deteriorated in recent months, with diplomatic tensions raised further on Monday after both sides traded accusations over the collisions in disputed waters.
Both countries have competing claims for sovereignty over several islands and shoals in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety, although the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled in favor of Manila in 2016.EFE