Tag Archive: Zambales

The boom found off Zambales after it was towed to shore. (Coast Guard photos)

The boom found off Zambales after it was towed to shore. (Coast Guard photos)

(Updated 5 p.m. July 26) A long boom with what are believed to be Chinese markings was found floating near disputed waters off Zambales, authorities said.

The boom, measuring about 1 kilometer, was spotted around 3 p.m. Friday some 3 nautical miles (5.5 kilometers) west of Iba town, Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Marfil, head of the Coast Guard Station Subic, said.

Fishermen who saw the boom informed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources which, in turn, reported to the nearest Coast Guard sub-station in Masinloc town, Marfil said.

The Masinloc Sub-Station asked fishermen to check, then at around 6 p.m., nine fishing bancas towed the boom towards Brgy. Sto. Rosario, Iba, Marfil said in an emailed report.

“Based on the statement of the fishermen, the floating object posed a hazard to navigation and was close to [a group of] corals,” he said.

Pictures obtained from Coast Guard Station Subic show that boom has a metal pipe connected by large orange floaters, and has what appear to be Chinese markings.

The pipe has a diameter of 1.5 meters while each floater has a diameter of 2 meters, according to Marfil’s report.

“Para siyang spill boom, parang pangharang ang porma… ‘Yung plastic na pangharang niya, orange. May Chinese na nakasulat,” a personnel at CGS-Subic said, when interviewed Saturday.

Authorities are still trying to determine where the boom came from, who brought it near Zambales, and why.

DND ‘disturbed’

Kids play on the boom found off Zambales after it was towed to shore. (Coast Guard photos)

Kids play on the boom found off Zambales after it was towed to shore. (Coast Guard photos)

The Department of National Defense, for its part, said it was “disturbed” over the boom’s discovery.

“This is a disturbing development, given that the booms were supposedly found well within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” DND spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said.

Iba is only one town away from Masinloc, the municipality which treats Panatag Shoal as part of its territory despite China’s occupation of the rocky outcrop.

“Hinihintay pa namin ang report kung saan galing itong floating object na ito,” Seaman 2nd Rio Omar, of CGS-Subic, said when asked if the boom could have come from Panatag.

China is presently occupying the shoal, which it calls “Huangyan Island,” and has been preventing the entry of Filipino fishermen with its law enforcement ships.

The occupation came after the 2012 standoff with the Philippine Navy, which tried to arrest Chinese poachers at the shoal, which Masinloc has been calling Bajo de Masinloc since the Spanish colonial period. (John Roson)

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Outgoing Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang said additional troops have been deployed to Batanes to help prevent intrusions, and suggested that a naval base be built there.

“The next na kailangan i-develop natin, maghanap tayo ng magandang naval base, o i-develop natin na naval base, dun sa Batanes,” Catapang said in an interview by state-run television PTV-4.

The military chief said he has already told the Navy about the plan, which should be implemented after building the naval base in Oyster Bay, Palawan.

The base being built in Oyster Bay is envisioned to guard against intrusions in the West Philippine Sea, where China is reclaiming and building structures on reefs. The planned facility in Batanes should guard against poachers, usually from Taiwan.

“I think this year they will ask for funding,” Catapang said.

Catapang made the remarks as he revealed that an additional platoon of Navy personnel have been sent to Batanes, where Filipino and Taiwanese coast guard members recently figured in standoffs.

“It’s the marching order of the President to also look into that area,” he said.

Navy chief Vice Admiral Jesus Milan, for his part, said forces in Batanes were increased “to secure mission-essential facilities being used for monitoring activities in the maritime domain.”

Navy personnel there are also tasked to plan for “improvements,” including the development of areas where boats can be docked, Millan told reporters by phone.

According to Millan, the Navy currently has no base in Batanes and sailors assigned there are only staying at offices of other government agencies.

Meanwhile, the Navy chief said more sailors were also deployed to Zambales and other “strategic areas” around the country to prevent the entry of poachers.

“Increasing ang poaching activities so we need to improve on our system and procedures… Ang problema lang, wala nga tayong pera to support the modernization of facilities,” he said. (John Roson)

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US military ships may still visit the Philippines without dumping waste, the Department of National Defense said Friday.

Peter Paul Galvez, the department’s spokesman, made the remark after it was reported that a shipping company catering to US military ships had dumped “toxic waste” into waters off Subic Bay.

“Hiwalay ‘yan sa port visits. Puwede ituloy ang visits without doing any kind of waste disposal,” Galvez told reporters.

Galvez said authorities, especially the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, are still investigating the allegations against Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Glenn Defense Marine is a company catering to US military ships that visit different ports in Asia.

Its services include transporting crew to and from land, as well fetching and disposing waste from the ships.

It was reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Glenn Defense Marine dumped into the West Philippine Sea more than 180,000 liters of domestic waste and more than 700 liters of “bilge water.”

The bilge water, a mixture of water, oil, and grease, reportedly came from US ships that participated in a recent naval exercise with Philippine forces and allegedly had high levels of “toxicity.”

“Pending investigation, those (visits and waste disposal) are two separate issues. Hindi kailangan ipagkabit,” Galvez said. (John Roson)

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Thirteen New People’s Army (NPA) members were killed in separate clashes in southern and northern Luzon Saturday morning, military officials said.

Eleven rebels, including ranking NPA leader Armando Albarillo, were killed in a clash in San Narciso, Quezon, Col. Eduardo Año commander of the Army’s 201st Brigade, based in Calauag, said.

The clash occurred as soldiers were scouring Sitio Makuyokuyo, Brgy. White Cliff, around 11:10 a.m.

“We received an information last night (Friday) from the residents of Brgy. White Cliff that a group of NPA consolidated in the area to prepare for an ambush targeting Army and police troops participating in a project of Gov. (David) Suarez. Nag-jump off ang tropa kaninang madaling araw at na-encounter nila yung mga NPA,” Año said.

Albarillo was the NPA’s commander in Bondoc Peninsula, the cradle of the rebel movement in Quezon, and secretary of the Sangay sa Platun Berto, according to the military official.

“This is a major decisive blow against the NPA in Quezon. Talagang bagsak na sila dito,” Año said, adding that he aims to make the province “NPA-free” by the end of 2012.

A soldier, identified only as Pfc. Badulid was slightly wounded on his arm during the clash. Troops recovered from the slain rebels five M16 rifles, M203 and M79 grenade launchers, and a shotgun.

Earlier in the day, two rebels were killed and five more were captured in another clash with troops in Botolan, Zambales.

Soldiers are still trying to identify the slain while Lito Collado alias Warry, one of those captured, was brought to the Zambales Provincial Hospital due to a bullet wound on his left leg, Lt. Col. Michael Samson, commander of the Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion, said.

The clash erupted around 5:30 a.m., when members of the 24th IB’s Charlie Company were scouring Sitio Dinapil, Brgy. Mambog.

Soldiers were sent to the area after a resident told the military that rebels were collecting money and food from civilians there, Samson said.

About 12 rebels engaged the troops in a 20-minute firefight before fleeing, he said.

Recovered from the scene were two M16 rifles, two M14 rifles, a shotgun, grenade, two grenade rifle ammunition, subversive documents, and personal belongings. (John Roson)

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The United States’ nuclear-powered attack submarine USS North Carolina (SSN-777) is in Subic Bay, Zambales, amid a “standoff” between the Philippines and China in Panatag Shoal (international name: Scarborough Shoal).

The submarine arrived in Subic Bay on May 13, according to a statement posted at the US Pacific Command (US PaCom) website.

“The crew is proud of our recent contributions as part of our country’s commitment to maintaining freedom of navigation, peace and stability in the region,” Cmdr. Richard Rhinehart, North Carolina’s commanding officer, said in the statement.

The North Carolina’s visit is part of her “Western Pacific deployment,” said Lt. Lara Bollinger, public affairs officer of the US PaCom’s Submarine Group 7.

Western parts of the Pacific Ocean include the Sea of Japan, Celebes Sea, Coral Sea, East China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Tasman Sea, Yellow Sea, and the South China Sea.

North Carolina’s arrival came amid what is now a month-long “standoff” between vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Surveillance in Panatag, which both countries claim.

Panatag Shoal, called Huangyan Island by China, is located in the South China Sea, 124 nautical miles off Masinloc, Zambales. Masinloc is only a little more than 70 kilometers away from Subic Bay.

Philippine Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Tonsay, however, said the North Carolina’s visit, which will last until May 19, was only for “routine ship replenishment” and has nothing to do with the ongoing standoff in Panatag.

“Walang kinalaman ‘yan, ‘yun nga ang inuulit namin, the Philippines stands in the crossroads of a major oceanic sealane so talagang geographic ang location natin, dadaanan at dadaanan tayo ng mga barko, that includes them,” Tonsay told reporters by phone.

North Carolina, which measures more than 350 feet long and weighs more than 7,800 tons when submerged, is one of four “Virginia class” submarines designed by the US for the “post Cold-War environment,” Bollinger said.

Virginia class submarines are able to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters, or other sea-based forces, according to an article at the US Pacific Fleet Submarine Force’s website.

North Carolina’s homeport is in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

“She is designed to operate with stealth, agility and endurance in the world’s littoral regions, as well as the deep oceans,” Bollinger said.

“She brings to the region the capability to conduct the full spectrum of potential submarine missions including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and mine warfare,” Bollinger added. (John Roson)

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Giant clams and some of the live sharks found on the Chinese fishing boats (Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy)

(Updated) Tension at the Scarborough Shoal decreased as six of the remaining Chinese vessels pulled out on Friday night, bringing along their “harvest” of marine life caught in Philippine waters, officials said.

Five Chinese fishing vessels and a Chinese fisheries law enforcement “command vessel” left the Scarborough Shoal between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., Lt. Gen. Anthony Alcantara, commander of the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command, said in a phone interview.

“Apparently the pullouts were the result of the negotiation by our foreign department with its Chinese counterpart,” Alcantara said.

On Friday noon, seven Chinese fishing vessels and the Zhungguo Haijan 75 marine survey vessel left the disputed area.

‘Illegal harvest’ off to China

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said he

Some of the Chinese nationals aboard the boats (photo courtesy of AFP Northern Luzon Command)

told Chinese ambassador Ma Keqing Friday night that the Philippines will allow the fishing vessels to return to China in exchange for confiscating their “illegal harvest.”

However, “no clear agreement” was reached as Ma asserted that Chinese authorities will inspect the vessels, according to Del Rosario.

“We had later learned that the Chinese fishing vessels had left the lagoon, a development which we had been working towards, except for our not being able to confiscate their illegal harvest pursuant to the Fisheries Code, which was regrettable,” he said.

“The meeting with Ambassador Ma last night resulted in a stalemate as we had demanded of one another that the other nation’s ship be first to leave the area,” Del Rosario added.

On Wednesday, Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama said the warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar stopped eight Chinese fishing vessels at the shoal Tuesday and found on some of them various corals, giant clams, and live sharks illegally caught in Philippine waters.

The number of Chinese surveillance vessels in and around the shoal eventually increased to four on Thursday, but only the two that blocked the shoal’s mouth remained the next day, Armed Forces chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa said on Friday.

The number of fishing vessels was confirmed to be 12 on Thursday, but only five were left on Friday, he said.

Coast Guard one-on-one with Chinese ship

Still in Scarborough Shoal, however, are the Philippine Coast Guard’s SARV-003 vessel, which replaced the Gregorio del Pilar, and the Chinese marine survey vessel number 84.

“Paghahandaan natin ‘yung susunod na incursion nila… hindi natin masasabing hindi na uulit ‘yun, paghahandaan natin ‘yung susunod,” Alcantara said.

The ships sent by the Navy earlier are presently replenishing their supplies, he added.

Dellosa revealed that amid the standoff, a Navy “peacock” gunship was posted some 14 kilometers away from the shoal while the Gregorio del Pilar was stationed “nearby.”

2nd warship to arrive this year

Due to the standoff and other incidents of intrusion into Philippine waters, the Department of National Defense and AFP are speeding up the acquisition of a second warship, according to Dellosa.

“Under negotiation na ‘yung Hamilton-Dallas, basta within this year dadating na ‘yan,” he said.

“We need more naval assets and aircraft to prevent ‘yung mga intrusion,” the AFP chief added.

Scarborough Shoal, claimed by both China and the Philippines, is located only 124 nautical miles from the shores of Zambales and is called Panatag Shoal by Manila. (John Roson)

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