By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea spokesperson, Philippine Coast Guard Commodore Jay Tarriela (PNA file photo)

MANILA – At least 10 Chinese vessels again performed “dangerous” maneuvering, blocking and water cannoning two Philippine government vessels on maritime patrol in Bajo de Masinloc on Monday.

In a statement Tuesday, National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) spokesperson, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commodore Jay Tarriela said the PCG vessel BRP Bagacay (MRRV-4410) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel, BRP Bankaw (MMOV-3004), encountered four Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels and six Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels.

At around 9:53 a.m., the BFAR vessel was about 12 nautical miles from Bajo de Masinloc when CCG-3305 used its water cannon and hit its starboard astern.

The PCG vessel was around 1,000 yards east-southeast of Bajo de Masinloc when both CCG-3105 and CCG-5303 surrounded it from both sides and hit it with jet stream water cannons, damaging its railing and canopy.

“This damage serves as evidence of the forceful water pressure used by the China Coast Guard in their harassment of the Philippine vessels,” Tarriela said.

He noted that the CCG has once again installed a 380-meter floating barrier that covers the entire entrance of the Bajo de Masinloc, restricting access to the area.

“Despite the harassment and provocative actions of the Chinese Coast Guard, both the PCG and BFAR vessels stood their ground and continued their maritime patrol. They were not deterred and will persist in carrying out their legitimate operations to support Filipino fishermen and ensure their safety,” he said.

The attack happened on the same day the multilateral maritime exercise ended between the Philippines, United States, and France for this year’s Balikatan exercises.

During the exercise, two Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels were spotted tailing the four Filipino, American, and French warships, in addition to several other sightings of Chinese vessels in surrounding areas during the previous days. (PNA)