Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) annaunced the Philippine Navy (PN) surveilance aircraft monitored eight (8) chinese fishing vessels anchored inside the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal on Sunday April 8., 2012 in the course of its enforcement of the Philippine Fisheries code and marine environment protection law.
The Panatag Shoal is an integral part of Phbilippine territory . The Shoal is 124 nautical miles from the nearest basepoint in Zambales Province . It is with in the Philippines 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.
To protect the marine environment and resources in the Panatag Shoal and to assert Philippine sovereignty and sovereignty rights over the area as a responsible coastal state, the PN deployed BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) from Palawan to Northern Luzon waters on April 8, 2012 to conduct maritime patrol over the Shoal. In the course of its patrol , PF-15 confirmed the presence of the eight (8) chinese fishing vessels anchored inside the lagoon of the Shoal. The PN vessel remained in the visinity of the Shoal for continuous monitoring of the said fishing vessels.
In the morning of April 10, 2012 Tuesday, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar , in accordance with the stablished Rules of Engagement , dispatched a boarding team to inspect the fishing vessels and collect photos and other evidence of their catch,. The inspection team reported that large amount of illegally collected corals, giant clams, and live sharks were found inside the compartment of the first fishing vessels that was boarded by the team.
The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar later reported that two (2) chinese maritime surveilance ship identified as Zhonggu Haijian 75 and and Zhonggu Haijian 84 managed to sail at the mouth of the Shoal , placing themselves between PF-15 and eight (8) chinese fishing vessels , thus preventing the arrest of the erring chinese fisherman.
This situation remained unchange as of Wenesday April 11, 2012.
To seek a diplomatic solution , Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario communicated to Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing in the evening of April 10, 2012 that the Panatag Shoal is an integral part of the Philippine territory and the PN is enforcing laws on the Shoal which with in the Philippine and continental shelf.
Furtheremore Secretary Del Rosario has invited Ambassador Ma to the DFA in the morning on the following day for further dicussion of this issue.