The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will not deploy any naval ships in the vicinity of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal but will monitor the situation in the area as Filipino fishermen have resumed fishing there.
“We won’t be sending any ships for the moment,” AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in Filipino.
He said the military would not follow suit with the Philippine Coast Guard which earlier deployed two patrol boats — the BRP Tubbataha and BRP Davao Del Norte — in Panatag Shoal which is only 230 kilometers off the coast of Zambales province.
Padilla earlier said the military welcomes reports that Filipino fisherfolk are now starting to fish again at Panatag Shoal.
“On the issue of Bajo De Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, the AFP welcomes the recent development (Filipino fishermen now fishing there openly) that have been monitored to have been happening in the area and we hope this continues in the interest of all those who are getting their livelihood out of the area,” he said.
Filipinos have been barred by the Chinese Coast Guard from fishing in the resource-rich area since the 2012 standoff at Panatag Shoal.