By Priam Nepomuceno

Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad (PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The situation in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is “not normal” anymore due to China’s continued aggression, a ranking naval official said Tuesday.

In a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said they are unfazed by the “clear and present challenge” posed by Beijing’s actions, especially its constant attempts to impede Manila’s missions to resupply its outposts in these waters.

Trinidad said the PN has long been conducting maritime patrols in the area and this was only challenged when China started erecting markers on Philippine-held shoals and features in 1992.

“If we look at the historical context of it, from 1992 when they started erecting markers on our shoals, shallow waters, reefs, our features in the WPS, in 1994 they prevented access to Mischief Reef. In (the) late 90s they started erecting fishermen’s structures in Mischief Reef, in 2011 they started reclamation, then they militarized the area, they declared an ADIZ (air defense identification zone) so it is not anymore normal, it is now the new paradigm or the new environment that the PN and the Western Command, and Naval Forces West operate in in the WPS,” he said.

As of Monday, Trinidad said there were 43 Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese maritime militia vessels in the WPS.

These can be broken down into four CCG ships and 17 fishing vessels in the Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal)

In the Ayungin Shoal, two CCG vessels and four fishing vessels were spotted while in Pagasa, one CCG and 15 fishing ships were detected. (PNA)