Use of ‘white ships’ blur navy, coast guard distinction – Adaci
MANILA, Philippines —”Nations have resorted to the use of white ships. I’m referring to coast guard ships to persecute their territorial claims that blur the distinction between the Navy and the Coast Guard,” Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. said on Monday.
Adaci made this observation after getting information that during the inspection flight of the Philippine Coast Guard on May 13, 2023, several suspected Chinese militia vessels were spotted on Julian Felipe Reef and Iroquois Reef, and a radio challenge from China told the country’s plane to leave immediately.
In response, Adaci said Philippine Navy joined PCG in responding to the situation, pointing out that monitoring the maritime environment “has become complex.”
“We also challenged them. It’s normal that they (PCG) also challenge other coast guard vessels and any commercial coast guard in the area,” he said.
Although Adaci did not specify the steps being taken to handle the reported Chinese incursions, he said Navy hopes its operational commands will carry on asserting its presence in the West Philippine Sea.
For its part, PCG said it installed additional navigational buoys within the so-called exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on May 14, 2023 following persistent Chinese incursions.
Meanwhile, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members has just conducted a two-day naval exercise in Subic, Zambales recently.
Adaci said this activity united navies within the region as they performed the task of maintaining peace and order in the disputed area.
He noted the naval exercises put the Asean navies’ new warships together and tested the country’s interoperability, doctrines, and way of communication to see if they aligned.
“It’s a show of unity. We have different competing interests, but at the end of the day, there are mutual interests we can share, particularly furthering peace and order in our regional and maritime waters,” Adaci said in an interview with ANC.
He also noted the event held last May 12 to 15, 2023 were meant to test the guidelines for maritime interaction approved by navies of Asean countries during the 17th iteration of the Asean Navy Chiefs’ Meeting (ANCM) on May 11, 2023.