PCG, BFAR conduct maritime drills in West PH Sea amid tensions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 25) — The Philippines conducted maritime exercises in the disputed West Philippine Sea, two days after the government fired twin diplomatic protests over the continued presence of Chinese vessels.

Members of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources began their "intensified" maritime training.

In a statement, the PCG said eight capital ships of the national government have been deployed for the maritime exercises in Bajo De Masinloc and Pag-asa Island.

The exercises cover navigation, small boat operations, maintenance, and logistical operations.

Lawyers, medical workers, and maritime specialists are also on board the vessels, the PCG said.

The vessels would also be used to perform maritime drills in the Batanes Group of Islands, Benham Rise, as well as in the southern and eastern portions of the Philippines.

"We are supporting the whole-of-nation approach in securing our maritime jurisdiction, especially the efforts of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea to undertake maritime security, maritime safety, maritime law enforcement, maritime search and rescue, and marine environmental protection roles in our country's waters," PCG spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo said.

READ: PH fires twin diplomatic protests over Chinese vessels' lingering presence in West PH Sea

Last Friday, the Foreign Affairs Department filed two diplomatic protests amid China's refusal to remove its vessels in the country's maritime zones.

The DFA said that as of April 20, 160 Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia have been spotted by law enforcement agencies in Philippine waters.

"The presence of these vessels blatantly infringe upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction," the DFA said in a statement.