THE number of Chinese warships in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) has increased, but it is still within acceptable limits, the Philippine Navy (PN) said Wednesday.

Based on monitoring from June 4 to 10, a total of 146 Chinese ships were sighted in various areas in the West Philippine Sea, 22 of which were believed to be Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships, said Commo. Roy Vincent Trinidad.

The figures are considerably higher compared to the 125 Chinese vessels spotted from May 28 to June 3, of which nine ships were from the PLAN.

"I believe [the increase of Chinese ships in Escoda Shoal] is on account of the exercises [conducted by the PLAN] last June 2, 3 and 4," Trinidad said during a public briefing.

Trinidad said looking at the strength and capability of the PLAN's South Sea Fleet, the increase in the number of Chinese warships in the area "is still not alarming."

"It is well within the capability of the South Sea Fleet. What will be concerning is when there will be other naval forces coming from their other fleets, the East Sea Fleet or the North Sea fleet, but so far, the increase in numbers is still within our acceptable limits," Trinidad said.

He said the South Sea Fleet could muster around 75 to 80 ships and submarines.

If their maintenance, repair and deployment throughout the maritime South China Sea are factored in, "we could get a ballpark figure of how many they can surge to our exclusive economic zone," Trinidad said.

"This is already an increase; most likely, some of it came from other parts of the South China Sea because of the recent exercises conducted in Sabina (Escoda) Shoal," he said.

Meanwhile, a national political party on Wednesday urged government leaders to increase diplomatic efforts to decrease the possibility of a conflict with China over the South China Sea.

In a statement issued on Independence Day, Carlos Valdes, Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino president, also called on foreign countries to exclude the Philippines from their political maneuverings and instead "engage Filipinos as equals, promote dialogue, make peace and respect the country's Constitution as a sovereign republic."

"We call on Malacañang to be transparent in its agreements, especially with regards to the arms build-up couched in the [the Philippine-United States Enhanced Defense Coop[ration Agreement], and trust in the Filipinos' collective sovereign will," Valdes said.

He also urged Asean member states and "those who value the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, to echo our calls for a de-escalation of war tensions and to vigorously promote cooperation among nations."

2024-06-12T16:26:17Z dg43tfdfdgfd