MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Sunday reported a recent incident of “short-range manoeuvres” by a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel in the disputed South China Sea that “constrained” movement of a nearby sailing Philippine ship.
The March 2 incident occurred during PCG maritime patrol operations around the Scarborough Shoal, known locally as Bajo de Masinloc, the PCG said in a press release.
It was not yet clear if the Philippines had filed a diplomatic protest for the incident. The PCG said it should wait for the go-ahead signal from the country’s National Western Philippine Sea Task Force before making the incident public.
The incident involved a CCG vessel with bow number 3305 conducting short range maneuvers over an area of approximately 21 yards (19.2m) towards the Philippine vessel BRP Malabrigo, the official said. PCG.
“This limited BRP Malabrigo’s maneuvering space – a clear violation of the International Regulations for the Avoidance of Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS),” the PCG said.
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The PCG had asked the country’s Foreign Ministry (FDFA) to help solve the problem through “peaceful and rules-based approaches”, according to PCG Commander Admiral Artemio Abu.
The DFA and the Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
China claims most of the waters of a so-called Nine Dash Line in the South China Sea, which is also disputed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Abu said it was the fourth reported incident of close-range maneuvers involving CCG and Philippine vessels in the Scarborough Shoal since May last year.
Despite the risks, Abu said the deployment of Filipino resources and personnel to the waters of the country’s exclusive economic zones would continue.
(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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