China Navy ship tails BRP Francisco Dagohoy in PH EEZ

China Navy ship tails BRP Francisco Dagohoy in PH EEZ

PAG-ASA Island, Palawan —A Chinese Navy ship tailed a Philippine government vessel in the disputed West Philippine Sea on Thursday.

The rare encounter with China’s gray ship or military ship took place six nautical miles southwest of Pag-asa Island, an area well within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

A team from GMA Integrated News together with journalists from other media organizations witnessed the incident while on board BRP Francisco Dagohoy, a multi-mission vessel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources or BFAR.

The BRP Francisco Dagohoy was just two hours into it’s long journey from Pag-asa Island to Puerto Princesa, Palawan after completing an aid mission when the unexpected happened.

Amid rough sea conditions and gloomy skies, a speeding gray ship with bow number 549 and flying China’s flag, appeared on the horizon.

It caught the crew of the BRP Francisco Dagohoy by surprise as the navy ship’s Automatic Identification System was turned off while making its approach from the rear.

The navy vessel revved up its powerful engines and started making a beeline for the much slower BRP Francisco Dagohoy. The Chinese Navy vessel barreled through the waves with ease, tailing the Philippine ship from a distance of approximately one nautical mile.

Then from behind, the navy ship maneuvered to the right and shadowed the civilian vessel while still maintaining a safe sailing distance.

People on board BRP Francisco Dagohoy watched and observed alertly.

Nothing else happened more than the tailing and the shadowing. Not even a radio challenge was heard from the Chinese Navy ship.

The commanding officer of the BRP Francisco Dagohoy downplayed the close encounter with the Chinese gray ship.

“Doon sa action ng Chinese Navy wala naman aggressive maneuver na ginawa,” Lieutenant Commander Mark Adrias said.

The Philippine ship proceeded with its voyage as planned, reaching Puerto Princesa on Friday afternoon.

China has been flexing its military supremacy in the contested waters of the West Philippine Sea, ignoring a United Nations ruling that rejected its territorial claims.—LDF, GMA Integrated News

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