MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network): The Philippines is now prepared for a “water war” in the West Philippine Sea as the country’s coast guard plans to use a “white to white diplomacy” in the disputed territory.
“To avert po sir the water canon incident, the Coast Guard vessels will be re-provisioning the marines assigned in Ayungin [Shoal] po sir in Sierra Madre,” Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Vice Admiral Oscar Endona Jr. said during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
“We are not going to use civilian vessel for re-provisioning our marine troops in Ayungin so we’ll be using the white ships already,” Endona added.
The PCG official made the remarks when Senator Richard Gordon asked how the Philippines will react should China send amphibian vessel and occupy a part of Palawan.
Just last Nov. 16, Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and water cannoned Philippine supply boats on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“We’ll use white to white diplomacy,” Endona went on referring to the Philippine Coast Guard vessels. “Actually, our white ships also have a water.”
“Water war?” Gordon quipped to which the PCG official answered yes.
Before Gordon, Senator Panfilo Lacson also inquired how the PCG would react to a possible attack in the Pagasa Island.
“How capable are we and how prepared are we to at least defend, put up a decent defence of the Pagasa island?” Lacson further asked.
Endona admitted that the nearest Coast Guard available vessel is based in El Nido and it would take them overnight to reach the island.
Defending the country’s territory, he said, would then be up to the Philippine Navy as the PCG could only provide assistance such as transporting personnel.
When Lacson asked about having a regular patrol in the Pagasa island, Endona explained that small vessels could not be at the sea the whole year because of sea conditions.
He pointed out though that regular patrolling would be possible with the arrival of new vessels from Japan next year as these could stay at sea for more than 30 days.