Chinese boats reach PH island in Spratlys
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines - A fleet of Chinese fishing boats believed to be part of the large convoy organized by Beijing last week to assert China's claim in the disputed territories in the Spratlys, reached Pagasa Island Tuesday, July 24, according to Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bitoonon.
Bitoonon told Rappler the fishing fleet was observed by personnel of the municipal government. "I am in touch with our administrative personnel in the island. We have observed their presence in the area since last week," said Bito-onon who is based in Puerto Princesa.
Pagasa is one of the islands in the Spratly Group of Islands claimed by the Philippines.
The fleet itself, according to a defense source, arrived Tuesday in the vicinity of Pag-asa, the main island being occupied by the Philippines which has a civilian population of over 100 excluding soldiers who are assigned there on rotating tours of duty.
The Western Command has declined to comment on the reported Chinese presence, but a Rappler source claimed there were about 20 fishing boats anchored some 5 nautical miles east of Pag-Asa island and escorted by an undetermined number of Chinese frigates.
The same source said the Western Command has deployed several maritime vessels to the area.
Bito-onon added however that he doesn't think the Chinese intend to stay in the area.
"I think they are just there to gather coral. That activity is apparently more lucrative to them compared to fishing," he said.
25 July 2012