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.