Marine Scientists in WPS Allegedly Being Threatened by Chinese Coast Guards
Filipino Marine Scientists conducting studies in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) allegedly receiving threats from the Chinese Coast Guard.
According to a radio interview with a marine scientist from the University of the Philippines, China is harassing not only fishermen but also scientists like them. Deo Florence Onda, associate professor and vice president of the UP Marine Science Institute, said that Chinese coast guards are still following them.
“They don’t directly run over us or directly hit us but we know that they follow us every day. What we do is we just keep our distance from them,” said Onda.
“During our Pag-asa expedition, there were areas that we could not reach because the Chinese Coast Guard kept following us,” Onda added.
He said that the Chinese Coast Guard was expelling them warning them that they were entering Chinese territory and would pursue them until the Research Vessel “Panata” reached an area of the sea where huge ships couldn’t go. Since 2019, the Panata, a recreational boat that was previously known as “Eagle V” before being renamed RV Kasarinlan, has been on research missions to the WPS.
However, Onda, the first Filipino to descend the Emden Deep in the Philippine Trench, reported that owing to Chinese vessel interference, they were unable to access research monitoring locations in the WPS. Some research has also been canceled as a result of security concerns to WPS, according to him.
On their efforts in the WPS, he noted, Filipino researchers have been “working closely with the national government.” China, according to Onda, has been conducting “illegal” research in the WPS and releasing the results without mentioning that the research was conducted in the Philippine territorial seas.
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