PCG: PH ready in case of 'water war' with China

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — A ranking official of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday said the country is equipped to engage in a "water war" with China should the need arise.

At a Senate hearing, PCG Vice Admiral Oscar Endona, Jr. assured lawmakers Coast Guard ships are ready to fire back if Chinese vessels again use water cannons on Philippine boats.

"Our white ship also has a water cannon. Pwede tayong gumanti ng water cannon [We can retaliate using our water cannon]," Endona said.

This was after Senators Richard Gordon and Panfilo Lacson raised concerns over the country's capability to respond to the Asian giant's aggressions in the West Philippine Sea.

Last month, three Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and fired water cannons to drive away Philippine ships en route to transport supplies to military personnel in Ayungin Shoal. This drew protest from the Philippine government, which asserted that the shoal is part of the country's exclusive economic zone.

To prevent a similar incident from happening again, Endona said the Coast Guard - not civilian vessels - will be assigned to resupply the marines.

During the hearing, Lacson also asked how capable the PCG is in defending Pag-asa Island. Endona explained it would take them overnight to reach the area, as the nearest available Coast Guard vessel is in El Nido. However, he assured senators the PCG can provide support for the Philippine Navy, including with the transport of personnel.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Eimor Santos contributed to this report.