AP

Philippines establishes coast guard outposts in disputed sea

May 19, 2022, 12:16 PM | Updated: May 20, 2022, 1:08 am

In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, Coast Guard members construct an outpost at a...

In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, Coast Guard members construct an outpost at an island in the disputed South China Sea on May 17, 2022. The Philippines has established three coast guard outposts on three islands in the disputed South China Sea to monitor ship movements and promote safety, coast guard officials said Friday, amid increasing maritime tensions with China. (Philippine Coast Guard via AP)

(Philippine Coast Guard via AP)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines has established three coast guard outposts on three islands in the disputed South China Sea to monitor ship movements and promote safety, officials said Friday, amid increasing maritime tensions with China.

The move reinforced the presence of Filipino troops on the islands in the hotly contested Spratly archipelago and will likely be frowned upon by Beijing, which has claimed the disputed waterway virtually in its entirety.

China has protested any new constructions in the region although it has transformed seven disputed reefs into military-guarded island bases in past years, alarming rival claimants and the United States, which has no territorial claims. The U.S. Navy and Air Force have been patrolling the area to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in the contested waters.

Coast guard Adm. Artemio Abu said the outposts on the islands, which were established this week, will be staffed by coast guard personnel and equipped with radio communications to report any incidents. Abu did not specify how many personnel will be stationed at the new outposts but said it’s the largest deployment in the disputed region so far.

“Through these command observation posts, we improve our capabilities in promoting maritime safety, maritime search and rescue, and marine environmental protection,” Abu said in a statement.

The three islands have been occupied by Filipino troops for years and are internationally known as West York and Nanshan islands and Northeast Cay.

Last week the coast guard installed five navigational buoys carrying Philippine flags just off the three islands and near Thitu island, the largest of nine islands and islets Filipino forces have occupied in the Spratlys. The Philippines considers much of the Spratlys as part of its western Palawan province.

The “sovereign markers” flash lights at night to guide fishermen and ships and “communicate that the said vicinity waters are considered special protected zones” where mining and oil exploration are prohibited to preserve their rich natural resources, Abu said without elaborating.

Aside from China and the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have had overlapping territorial claims in the busy waterway, which many regard as a potential flashpoint in Asia.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes four member states involved in the territorial disputes, have resumed talks this year on a proposed “Code of Conduct,” or a nonaggression pact aimed at preventing armed confrontations in the region. But the negotiations have faced years of delay, partly due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

1 day ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

2 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

2 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

3 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

4 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

5 days ago

Philippines establishes coast guard outposts in disputed sea