The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea on Tuesday said the coast guard fended off seven Chinese maritime militia vessels spotted at Sabina Shoal off Puerto Princesa on two separate occasions.

The report said the seven Chinese vessels were seen “nested or in stationary linear formation at Sabina Shoal” last April 27 and that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel BRP Cabra was able to get the militia vessels to disperse after initiating a challenge.

Five Chinese vessels returned to Sabina Shoal on April 29 but left when BRP Cabra arrived during one of its patrols.

“The Philippine Government shall not shirk from its constitutional obligation to preserve and protect our territorial integrity, and the exercise of our sovereign rights,” said Hermogenes Esperon, national security adviser and task force chairman.

On April 13, the task force reported spotting some 240 Chinese maritime militia vessels roaming around Union Banks and Pag-asa island, which are within the Philippines’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Department of Foreign Affairs has sent diplomatic protests to China over the illegal Chinese activities in the Philippine EEZ. Isabell Andrea Pine