The Philippine Navy’s BRP Benguet took assertive action by issuing consecutive radio challenges to a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) 621 ship on October 13, as reported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The encounter unfolded as the Chinese vessel, allegedly shadowing the BRP Benguet, closed into an alarming proximity of 80 yards and even attempted to cross the bow of the Philippine ship with a closest point of approach of 350 yards.
According to AFP, the entire incident transpired between 1:40PM and 5:04PM, as revealed by AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Enrico Gil Ileto.
The AFP clarified that the BRP Benguet was on its way to Rizal Reef Station, carrying out a routine rotation and resupply mission when this confrontation occurred.
The Philippine Navy crew, in its radio challenges, cited the violation of Collision Regulations (COLREG) and firmly demanded that the Chinese vessel maintain a safe distance from the BRP Benguet.
In response, the PLAN 621 vessel issued a counter-warning based on their “10-dash line,” a claim that is widely considered baseless and not recognized under international law.
AFP Western Command Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos voiced his concerns over the reckless maneuvers executed by the Chinese Navy vessel, actions that put lives and safety at sea in jeopardy.
“China must immediately halt these unsafe actions and conduct themselves in a professional manner by adhering to international law,” Carlos emphasized.
General Romeo Brawner Jr., the chief of staff of the AFP, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need for China to discontinue these hazardous actions and aggressive behavior when it comes to Philippine vessels.
This incident underscores the imminent risk of collision and accidents at sea, highlighting the urgency for China to adhere to maritime safety standards.
Brawner concluded, “The AFP remains committed to ensuring the safety of its personnel during Resupply and Rotation (RoRe) missions and asserts that it will continue to adhere to the rules-based international order.”
The Philippines has repeatedly called on China to cease its illegal activities within the country’s maritime zones, emphasizing the need for adherence to international law and mutual respect in the region.