Philippines Criticizes Chinese Ship’s ‘close distance maneuvering’ in the West Philippine Sea

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported a recent episode of “close distance maneuvering” by a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel in the disputed West Philippine Sea that “constrained” the movement of a Philippine ship sailing nearby.

According to the PCG, the incident occurred on March 2 during Philippine marine patrol operations around the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc.

The incident involved a Chinese Coast Guard vessel with bow number 3305 that conducted close distance maneuvering in the direction of the Philippine vessel BRP Malabrigo over an area of roughly 21 yards (19.2 meters).

“This limited BRP Malabrigo’s maneuvering area — a clear breach of the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS),” said the PCG.

According to the PCG commandant, Adm. Artemio Abu, the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs has been asked to assist in resolving the matter through “rules-based and peaceful approaches”.

Abu added that this was the fourth close-range maneuvering incident involving the Chinese Coast Guard and Philippine warships in the Scarborough Shoal since May of last year.

It was not stated whether the Philippines had filed a diplomatic complaint in response to the event.

Philippine assets and troops will continue to be deployed to waterways within the country’s exclusive economic zones, Abu asserted.

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