Around 287 Chinese ships allegedly to be maritime militia were seen scattered within and outside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) reported on Wednesday, May 12.
The task force said that bigger groupings of Beijing’s vessels were spotted at the artificial islands of China, in areas near Philippine-occupied islands, and other areas including the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef.
In his previous statement, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Julian Felipe Reef is not part of the Philippine EEZ. This was countered by the NTF-WPS in their report which read, “The JFR is a low tide elevation (LTE) located 175 NM from Bataraza, Palawan and within our 200 NM EEZ. It is part of Philippine territory in as much it is located within the overlapping 12 NM territorial seas of McKennan (Chigua) Reef and of another possible high-tide feature, Grierson (Sin Cowe East) Reef, also our territories under the municipality of Kalayaan.”
Nevertheless, the NTF-WPS encourages fishermen to continue sailing and fishing in the country’s waters as they will pursue strengthening their presence in the West Philippine Sea and protecting their safety and welfare.