Camp Aquino, Tarlac – The Armed Forces plans to put up four more radar stations in Northern Luzon to prevent more intrusions into the country’s territory, a top military official said Friday.

“What we want is to have a system where the Navy can detect illegal entries from as far as Batanes to the West Philippine Sea,” Maj. Gen. Gregorio Catapang, chief of the AFP Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), said in a press briefing here.

Catapang said he is now “fine-tuning” a proposal to build radar stations in Batanes, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, and Aurora.

The facilities, called “littoral observatory stations” (LOS), will be helpful in preventing incidents like those that happened in Batanes and Scarborough Shoal, he said.

Capabilities of the existing LOS in Zambales and Pangasinan are “very limited,” he said.

In April 2012, a Navy ship caught Chinese fishermen poaching in Scarborough Shoal off Zambales after being alerted by a reconnaissance plane.

The incident resulted in a “standoff” at the shoal between Philippine and Chinese authorities, before the former withdrew and the latter intensified its presence.

Last May, Coast Guard members tried to apprehend a Taiwanese fisherman poaching off Batanes, but the incident resulted in the latter’s death.

Meanwhile, Catapang said he is considering proposing that Filipino fishermen who can’t fish anymore at Scarborough Shoal because of Chinese authorities be transferred to the Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean.

“Wala tayong kalaban dun,” he said, adding that sea farming could also be considered for the displaced fishermen.

Catapang said the military does not prevent the fishermen from going to Scarborough Shoal, though it’s best not to.

“They are allowed to fish, kaya lang medyo critical ‘yung area (Scarborough), we don’t want them to be in harm’s way,” he said.

Varying numbers of Chinese law enforcement ships, sometimes reaching as high as five, are still being monitored at the shoal, he said.

Seventy-five concrete blocks, which Defense Secretary Voltaire had called a “prelude to construction” by China, are still also scattered around the shoal.

“We don’t intend to remove them, wala namang order sa amin. Ang Armed Forces ninyo kung anong inutos, ‘yun ang gagawin namin,” Catapang said. (John Roson)

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