Tensions Increase

Amidst ongoing tension between the Philippines and China over the Scarborough Shoal territorial dispute, a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine has been spotted off the coast of Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

US sends nuclear-powered submarine near disputed shoal
By Jun Pasaylo

ZAMBALES, Philippines – A United States nuclear-powered submarine was spotted off the coast of Subic Bay Freeport Zone today at the height of the ongoing tension between the Philippines and China on its territorial dispute on Scarborough Shoal.

A source from the US Embassy said the attack submarine is on its routine port visit to Subic and is scheduled to depart from the Philippine waters on May 19.

The USS North Carolina docked at Subic Bay Freeport on Sunday.

The presence of the US war vessel came a day before the Chinese government sets to impose a one-and-half month fishing ban in large swaths of South China Sea starting May 16, including the disputed Scarborough.

Reports reaching www.philstar.com also disclose that more war vessels will be coming to the Philippine shores in the coming days.

Apart from the disputed shoal, the China Fisheries Administration Bureau announced that the ban covers the entire area of Spratlys and other islands and reefs dotting the South China Sea.

The ban was announced amid escalating tension between Manila and Beijing over Panatag, which the Philippines said has been part of Masinloc town in Zambales since Spanish times.

Chinese authorities has said the directive means no fishing will be allowed except for mono-layer gillnets, and hook and line fishing, adding that it will confiscate boats, fish catch and fishing gear of violators.

The Philippine government however was adamant that it will not heed on the imposition of fishing ban directive of the Chinese government, saying it has sovereign rights over a portion of the waters where Beijing plans to impose its directive.

“Our position is we do not recognize China’s fishing ban in as much as portions of the ban encompass our exclusive economic zone,” Philippine foreign affairs chief Alberto del Rosario said.

On Monday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also vowed to continue its presence in Panatag Shoal amid China’s pronouncement.

Lt. Commander Rommel Supangan, acting PCG spokesman, said Monday that there’s no change in the presidential directive for the group’s Search and Rescue Vessel 003 (SRV-003) BRP Pampanga to stay put at the Panatag Shoal .

“So far the standing of the President is to maintain the presence of our ship and show our flag in the area,” Supangan said.

Source: philSTAR

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