3 foreign ships seen in Scarborough

Posted at 04/19/2012 10:47 PM | Updated as of 04/20/2012 10:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Three unknown fishing vessels were seen at Scarborough Shoal on Wednesday, a military official said.

The Armed Forces is still verifying if the ships belong to China.

"Their nationality is unknown," said Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief Lt. Gen. Anthony Alcantara.

"I have no specifics if they are inside or outside the lagoon. That's the summary of the report to me - that there are three vessels there. These are not Filipino vessels," he added.

He said a small vote with an outrigger was spotted outside the lagoon while another boat was inside.

"We saw them yesterday and it was reported (to me)  just today. The issue is we saw them," Alcantara said.

He said Philippine troops did not board the foreign vessels. Alcantara did not explain the reason why.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Algier Ricafrente, meanwhile, kept mum on the 3 foreign ships.

He said the Coast Guard is forwarding all information it gathers to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

 "If Nolcom is releasing that information, then let's ask Nolcom because there is a standing order to us that it is only the DFA that should be releasing official statements on this issue. The directive to us is to forward any incident report to the DFA for appropriate statement. If Nolcom is releasing something, then ask them but on the part of the Coast Guard we just forward reports to the DFA for release of appropriate information," Ricafrente said.
 
Two Chinese maritime surveillance vessels and the Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Edsa Dos are still in the area.

The M/Y Sarangani, a Philippine archeological reaserch ship that was allegedly harassed by Chinese aircraft and ships, has left area."They left yesterday. Maybe because they've completed their research," Alcantara said.

"As far as |I know, there is no threat on them. They were taken cared of by our Coast Guard," he added.