Philippines monitoring China's big dredger: Lorenzana
The Department of National Defense (DND) said Monday the government is monitoring China's recently launched dredging vessel
“We have reports that they (China) launched their big dredger, but we don’t know where it is going. We are constantly monitoring the movement of this ship,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters after the celebration of DND’ 78 founding anniversary in Camp Aguinaldo.
“We have our ships going there. We have regularly we have also our aerial patrol going regularly so we will be able to monitor the movement of this so called very big dredger ship,” Lorenzana added.
Lorenzana said the government will be able to monitor the situation through the presence of the government troops in the features and Islands occupied by the Philippines in West Philippine Sea.
“We have security there in Pagasa (Island). We have troops there and all the islands that we occupy so we will know immediately if they are doing something to our islands,” he added.
Lorenzana also admitted that the presence of the huge dredging vessel “is a bit concerning.”
“Well it is (concerning), but now there is no major (concern) because the dredger is not yet doing anything, where it is going. What will it do we do not know, but the mere presence is a little bit concerning yes,” he said.
Lorenzana said the Philippine government are in touch with the Chinese officials here in the country.
“We are in touch with the Chinese, with their embassy here, with defense attach?,” he said.
In a press release, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano expressed his apprehension over this development.
“China has recently launched a 140-meter long and 28-meter wide dredging vessel named Tian Kun Hao,” a Magdalo press release noted.
“It is now the largest dredger in Asia and is actually dubbed as 'Asia’s most powerful island maker'", it added.
Citing the reclamation activity by China to create their artificial Island in West Philippines Sea, Alejano said it is alarming that the Chinese have such kind of vessel.
“The Tian Kun Hao is quite alarming in itself. This newest addition in China’s maritime arsenal provides increased and faster capacity to dredge and reclaim lands,” he said.
“It would make it easier for China to build artificial islands and reclaim more reefs. Take for instance what China did when it reclaimed its seven reefs in 2013 to 2016. Given the earlier aggressive reclamation activities of China, one cannot help but be alarmed on what this massive dredger could do,” he added. Robina Asido/DMS