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Increase in Chinese ships within ‘acceptable’ limits: Navy

MANILA – A ranking Philippine Navy (PN) official on Wednesday said the increase in China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is “still within acceptable limits”.

Navy spokesperson for WPS Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said the increase is within the capability of the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet consisting of between 75 to 80 naval vessels and submarines.

“It is well within the capability of the South Sea Fleet. What will be concerning is ‘pag ito ay may mga pwersa sila galing sa ibang fleet nila (is when there will other naval forces coming from their other fleets), the East Sea Fleet or the North Sea fleet but so far ‘yung (the) increase in numbers is still within our acceptable limits,” Trinidad said in an interview with Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon aired over PTV. 

The Navy’s June 4 to 10 monitoring of various WPS features shows that 146 assorted Chinese ships were spotted, 22 of which were classified as PLAN’s naval vessels.

These figures are considerably higher compared to the 125 Chinese vessels spotted from May 28 to June 3, of which nine ships were from the PLAN.

Trinidad attributed the increase of Chinese warship sightings for June 4 to 10 to the recent PLAN exercise at Sabina Shoal that happened in almost the same timeframe.

He said the Navy’s new vessels make monitoring a large portion of the WPS easier.

“It will not deter us, we will not be deterred from performing our mandate of patrolling, of rotating our personnel or providing them supplies,” he said.

When asked about China’s earlier announcement to arrest foreigners entering the South China Sea starting June 15, Trinidad said China has no right to do that, noting that it is the Chinese that are entering the Philippine exclusive economic zone. (PNA)

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