Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tensions still high at Scarborough - defense chief

MANILA, Philippines -- Tensions remain high at Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal as a standoff between Philippine and Chinese naval vessels at the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea, also called the South China Sea, entered its second week, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Tuesday.

The standoff was triggered by the interception of eight Chinese fishing vessels laden with contraband marine products by the Philippine Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar but two Chinese “civilian” maritime surveillance vessels rushed to the disputed island and prevented the arrest of the fishermen.

Tuesday afternoon, tensions stepped up a notch when a Philippine exploration vessel was buzzed by a Chinese aircraft and another Chinese fishing vessel arrived at the area.

Both the Philippines and China have filed diplomatic protests against each other.

"Up to now the tension is still high," Gazmin told reporters.

At the moment, a Coast Guard vessel and the French archeological yacht M/Y Sarangani remain in the area.

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| April 17, 2012 | Article Link