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Fewer Chinese vessels are being watched by PCG in contested waters.

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During its most recent Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) flight on Thursday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) noted a decrease in the number of Chinese ships cruising close to several of the contentious features in the West Philippine Sea.

The Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, and the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels were present, according to a statement released by the PCG on Friday. The MDA flights were carried out over Pag-asa Island, Ayungin Shoal, and Sabina Shoal, the PCG stated.

It discovered 15 CMM vessels close to Pag-asa Island, compared to 42 the previous week.

However, it also mentioned that a CCG ship and a cruiser of the PLA Navy were still in the island’s territorial sea.

The Jiangdao Class destroyer of the PLA Navy and CCG vessel 5203 are still lingering in Pag-12-nautical-mile asa’s territorial waters, according to the statement.

The PCG reported that CCG vessel 5304 was still loitering around six nautical miles distant over Ayungin Shoal, where the Philippine Navy’s BRP Sierra Madre is grounded to assert National sovereignty.

The PCG reported that it detected 17 CMM vessels over Sabina Shoal, another feature that is claimed by both countries, down from 26 two weeks earlier.

The CCG warships issued seven radio challenges to the MDA aircraft during its flights—four over Pag-asa Island and three over Ayungin Shoal.

To guarantee a coordinated response to the situation in the contested waters, the PCG is working with the Western Command (WESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Area Task Force – West (ATF-WEST).

The National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea would be given a detailed report on the MDA flight for evaluation and analysis, it stated.

The PCG endorsed the claim made by AFP-WESCOM that the Philippines’ initiatives are meant to encourage adherence to a global system of rules-based order and to reinforce established bilateral and multilateral structures to prevent conflict and uphold peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea.

The PCG reaffirmed its dedication to upholding Philippine sovereignty and rights notwithstanding harassment, coercion, and provocations from Chinese vessels that posed a threat to such rights, which were outlined in UNCLOS and supported by the 2016 Arbitral Award.

While also promising that they would “remain resolute in advancing the national interest,” PCG Commandant Adm. Artemio Abu.

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