Navy ships presence in disputed waters to escalate tensions — AFP

By , on April 24, 2015


This handout photo taken on March 17, 2015 by satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe and released to AFP by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSSI) think tank shows a satellite image of vessels purportedly dredging sand at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.  The series of satellite images posted on the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies last week show a flotilla of Chinese vessels dredging sand onto Mischief Reef and the resulting land spreading in size. Beijing on April 9 reaffirmed its right to build on the disputed islands after the satellite imagery emerged of construction operations turning tropical reefs into concrete artificial islands. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all have overlapping claims in the area. (AFP Photo / CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative / DigitalGlobe)
This handout photo taken on March 17, 2015 by satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe and released to AFP by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSSI) think tank shows a satellite image of vessels purportedly dredging sand at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. The series of satellite images posted on the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies last week show a flotilla of Chinese vessels dredging sand onto Mischief Reef and the resulting land spreading in size. Beijing on April 9 reaffirmed its right to build on the disputed islands after the satellite imagery emerged of construction operations turning tropical reefs into concrete artificial islands. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all have overlapping claims in the area. (AFP Photo / CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative / DigitalGlobe)

MANILA — Escorting Filipino fishermen, who are being bullied by Chinese maritime patrol ships, with Philippine Navy (PN) vessels will likely escalate the tension in contested waters, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced Wednesday.

This was the reply of AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala when asked if the military leadership is looking into the possibility of having fleet units of the Philippine Navy (PN) escort Filipino fishermen on the disputed fishing ground off Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

However, he clarified that an inter-agency committee is looking into this incident and planning to deal with the issue.

Deployment of naval vessels in the area is dependent on the result of the meeting, Kakilala added.

At the moment, the AFP is refraining from deploying Navy ships in the disputed area as it could further rachet up the tensions there.

Kakilala also said that protecting Filipino fishermen from harassment in the high seas is the work of the Philippine Coast Gaurd (PCG), a civilian maritime agency.

Suggestions to have the PN escort Filipino fishers came in wake of reports that the PCG does not possess sufficient assets for maritime escort missions.