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2 Chinese warships spotted off Balabac, Palawan

June 21 ------ Two Chinese warships were spotted near Onok Island in Balabac, Palawan, days after Chinese forces harassed Filipino troops in Ayungin Shoal, Unang Balita reported. A former barangay chairman in the town said he and his group were on their way home from conducting a medical mission on an island when they spotted the two Chinese ships. 


The former barangay chairman said they initially thought the ships were Philippine vessels until they saw the Chinese flags. A doctor who was part of the medical mission said one of the foreign ships moved as close as one kilometer to them. By the doctor's estimate, the Chinese vessels were already on the municipal waters of Balabac. 


A member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command has confirmed the presence of Chinese warships in the area, although the military has yet to issue an official statement about it, the Unang Balita report said. The Chinese warships were spotted two days after Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) personnel aggressively harassed Filipino troops performing rotation and resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. Seven soldiers were hurt in the incident, including one who lost his thumb. 


The Philippine military said CCG forces also took some of their weapons and damaged some of their rigid-hulled inflatable boats. The Ayungin Shoal, which China calls Ren'ai Reef, is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is within the country's 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, has denounced "the illegal and aggressive actions of Chinese authorities that resulted in personnel injury and vessel damage." 




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