PCG: China violated 3 int’l maritime rules in Ayungin collision

China has violated at least three international maritime rules during the separate collisions in the Ayungin Shoal on 22 October, Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, Commodore Jay Tarriela, said Monday.

In a press conference, Tarriela said the China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia had particularly infringed the rules under the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea or COLREGs—of which China was among the signatory states.

“The first one violated is Rule 2 or ‘the responsibility of the vessel. This rule emphasized that nothing in the COLREGs can absolve any vessel from the duty to avoid a collision,” he said.

Tarriela lamented that deliberately blocking a vessel “not only increases the risk of collision” but also disregards the “fundamental principle of taking action to prevent a potential collision.”

China also dishonored Rule 7 or “the risk of collision”—which requires every vessel to “use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if a risk of collision exists,” he added.

Tarriela said that Rule 7 is considered in conjunction with other relevant rules and factors, such as Rules 5 (look-out), 6 (safe speed), and 8 (action to avoid collision).

During the incident, China ignored Rule 18A or “the responsibilities between vessels”, which requires vessels to keep out of the way of another vessel if the latter has the right of way.

Tarriela said that by deliberately blocking a vessel, “you are not allowing the other vessel to proceed in accordance with their right of way.”

He noted the active participation of the CMM ships in the harassment and blocking of the supply contingent from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“For the first time, the Chinese maritime militia vessels are also doing such dangerous maneuvers that even collided with our PCG vessel. Before, they were just taking orders from the CCG,” he said.

During the country’s resupply mission, the Philippines seemed to be outnumbered by the five CCG vessels, eight CMMVs, and two People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels, that have participated in the Chinese’ shadowing and dangerous maneuvers.

A CCG vessel collided with the AFP-chartered resupply ship, Unaiza May, as it attempted to block its latter’s path to BRP Sierra Madre at about 10.5 nautical miles from Ayungin Shoal on Sunday.

On the same day, a separate collision occurred between BRP Cabra and a CMMV at about 6.4 nautical miles from Ayungin Shoal.

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