By Priam Nepomuceno

(Armed Forces of the Philippines File logo)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said that it challenged four vessels of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) spotted sailing in the Balabac Strait in Palawan province.

“On June 19, four PLAN vessels were monitored transiting within 12 nautical miles of Palawan. At 1:49 p.m., two of these vessels were identified as the PLAN destroyer Luyang III (DDG-168) and the frigate Jiangkai II (FFG-570), moving at a speed of 13 knots, both heading southwest,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a message to reporters.

The other two PLAN ships, identified as the destroyer Renhai (CG-105) and the replenishment oiler Fuchi (AOR-907), were monitored at 3:56 p.m. moving at a speed of 15 knots.

“As part of standard operating procedure, these vessels were challenged and they responded accordingly,” Trinidad said.

He said the area where the vessels passed through is a common route used by international vessels passing through Philippine waters.

“Our capability to monitor and respond to such activities is a testament to our commitment to maritime domain awareness and the protection of our territory, sovereignty, and sovereign rights,” Trinidad said. “Rest assured, the AFP remains vigilant in safeguarding our maritime interests.” (PNA)