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Philippine gov’t: Report about Chinese militia on Spratlys ‘just speculation’

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a message upon his arrival at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City on September 30, 2016. (TOTO LOZANO/PPD/Released)

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) has documented the increase of Chinese vessels in the Spratlys, including the islands controlled by the Philippines.

“This gross overcapacity combined with their tendency to congregate around both Chinese-occupied reefs and those held by other claimants lead to the conclusion that most of these vessels serve, at least part-time, in China’s maritime militia,” the AMTI said in its report.

“The activities of the militia are well-documented—they engage in patrol, surveillance, resupply, and other missions to bolster China’s presence in contested waters in the South and East China Seas,” the report added.

Sought for comment on Chinese fishing fleet as a militia force in the disputed waters, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo dismissed the report as “just speculation.”

“We do not know that yet, that’s just speculation,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

But the Palace official said the military is ready to “respond accordingly” against any threat in the disputed sea.

“I’m sure whoever is authorized to oversee that area, they know what to do if they feel that there is a security threat,” he said.

“The ones guarding there know if there is a threat or none and they will respond accordingly,” he added.

Asked if the Palace would do an independent investigation on the report, Panelo said “the Department of National Defense is doing that already.”


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