Philippines to set up monitoring station in disputed sea

Published December 2, 2023
PHILIPPINES National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano (right) and coast guard commandant Ronnie Gavan visit the monitoring facility on Thitu Island, in the disputed South China Sea, on Friday.—AFP
PHILIPPINES National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano (right) and coast guard commandant Ronnie Gavan visit the monitoring facility on Thitu Island, in the disputed South China Sea, on Friday.—AFP

THITU ISLAND: The Philippines said on Friday it was establishing a coast guard station on the largest island it holds in the disputed South China Sea, to improve “monitoring of Chinese vessels”.

National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano made the announcement during a visit to the Philippine-held Thitu Island, which is part of the hotly contested Spratly Islands.

The coast guard station would be equipped with “advanced systems”, including radar, satellite communication, coastal cameras and vessel traffic management, Ano said.

The station has been built and is expected to be operational early next year.

“These systems will greatly enhance the coast guard’s ability to monitor the movements of Chinese maritime forces, other countries that might be coming here, and also as well as our own public vessels and aircraft,” Ano said.

The collection of real-time data would have “an impact on the behaviour” of rival claimants, Ano said, hailing it as a “game changer”.

Thitu is 430 kilometres from the major Philippine island of Palawan and more than 900 kilometres from China’s nearest major landmass of Hainan island.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea.

It deploys vessels to patrol the waters, and has built artificial islands and military installations to reinforce its stance.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have also staked claims to various islands and reefs in the sea that is believed to have rich petroleum reserves deep beneath its waters.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2023

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