Gov’t ship, plane now patrolling PH Rise
The Philippine Coast Guard has deployed a ship and a plane to patrol the Philippine Rise, a resource-rich part of Philippine territory that some experts feared was also being encroached by China.
The Coast Guard, according to spokesperson Capt. Armand Balilo, on Saturday sent an Islander aircraft, a propeller-driven plane, and the BRP Suluan, a multi-role response vessel, to Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise) to conduct patrols in the area in tandem.
Balilo said the ship and plane left Legazpi City in Albay province for the vast underwater plateau that is part of Philippine territory off the coast of Aurora province.
The Coast Guard vessels, said Balilo, “would serve as our ‘eyes’ in the area as part of our maritime patrols.”
The deployment came after Coast Guard chief, Rear Admiral Elson Hermogino, received instructions from President Duterte for the Coast Guard to activate patrols in Philippine Rise, which is believed to be teeming with natural gas, oil and other marine resources.
The BRP Suluan would embark on a two-week tour of duty and would be replaced by another Coast Guard vessel.
As the Philippine Rise was known as an international navigation route, civilian ships from other countries would be allowed to pass through the area.
“They would be allowed to pass but they would not be allowed to conduct any illegal activities in the area,” Balilo said.
Mr. Duterte had threatened to go to war with any country that would encroach into Philippine Rise to either explore or occupy the area. Former human rights lawyer Harry Roque, presidential spokesperson, later clarified that Mr. Duterte’s rant was not aimed at China.
In Davao City on Thursday, the President repeated his rant against foreign entities that would intrude into Philippine Rise.
“You start to f*ck with the area there I’ll go to war,” he said. He told soldiers to be steadfast in defending Philippine territory. “Don’t be afraid, I’ll join you,” the President said. —WITH REPORTS FROM ALLAN NAWAL AND FRINSTON LIM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.