A group of protesters named “Kalayaan Atin Ito” with around 50 members who recently finished a protest in Pagasa (Thitu) Island in the West Philippine Sea, said that Chinese Coast Guard ships and helicopter patrolled the island everyday during their stay.
“While at Pagasa island–the seat of our Kalayaan municipality–every day, a Chinese Coast Guard patrol ship with bow number 46708 patrolled the shores of our island even inside the 12 nautical miles territorial waters,” the protesters said in a statement on Monday.
“Also, almost every day, Chinese Coast Guard helicopter patrolled the shores of the Pagasa island–too close that we were able to record it on video through a low tech mobile phone,” it added.
The group stayed in the Island for seven days, from December 26 to January 1, to protest China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea.
The group also criticized China’s “triangle militarized zone” from Fiery Cross Reef to Subi Reef and Mischief Reef.
“Inside this triangle are the other military bases that China has built,” it said.
“Today, it became impossible for our Armed Forces to pass through this triangle as we have experienced when our Philippine Navy tried to tail us but passed through a route outside this triangle and this was admitted by the AFP. Our fishermen too cannot fish in these fishing grounds. In fact, in the entire West Philippine Sea, we have lost its value as a fishing ground to China,” it added.
Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez of the Western Command said that Chinese Coast Guard’s patrols were “not surprising.”
“It is not surprising kasi we have have been seeing patrols by the Chinese Coast Guard and even some incidences na lilitaw yung Chinese Navy. Hindi unusual ‘yun,” he told reporters.