Yesterday, the Philippine Coast Guard posted a video taken aboard the BRP Cabra, the Coast Guard vessel that successfully warned away a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warship that had enroached into Philippine waters near El Nido, Palawan on 13 July 2021.
In the video, you could see PCG Commander Erwin Tolentino, the commanding officer of the BRP Cabra, issuing a radio challenge against the Chinese Navy warship. Addressing “Chinese warship 189”, and identifying themselves as Philippine Coast Guard ship MRRV-4409, Tolentino advises the warship to “leave this vicinity”.
The Chinese ship was spotted near the Marie Louise Bank, about 146 nautical miles off El Nido, Palawan. “Using the Philippine Coast Guard manual on the rules of the use of force within the Philippines’ EEZ, Commander Tolentino ensured that the BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409)’s radio challenge to the Chinese Navy Warship was lawful and peaceful,” the PCG’s caption read, in Filipino.
During last night’s Talk to the Nation weekly briefing, President Rodrigo Duterte spoke about the incident, wondering out loud why this and other Chinese vessels have been easily driven away. Noting that this has happened several times in the past, President Duterte said, “Gusto ko lang basahin ang utak ng mga tao na ‘yan. Bakit madali silang mapaalis? Are they avoiding any confrontation or…? Yeah, parang goodwill, or there’s something afoot? We really do not know kasi madali mapaalis ngayon eh.” (“I want to read the minds of those people. Why were they easily driven away? Are they avoiding any confrontation or…? Yeah, maybe goodwill, or is there something afoot? We really do not know because they’re now easy to drive away.”
Duterte also said that the Philippines historically sent “only” Coast Guard ships, as this was considered a diplomatic alternative to sending warships. “Yes, historically, we never really sent any of our warships, puro Coast Guard-Coast Guard lang ‘yun. That’s really part—Coast Guard ano, is part of the diplomatic ano ‘yan eh. We do not send warships.”
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