PH actions vs China Coast Guard floating barriers depends on Marcos

Screenshot from PCG video
Screenshot from PCG video

THE actions the Philippines would take toward the installation of floating barriers in Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal will depend on the decision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS).

In a television interview, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said Monday, September 25, 2023, that they have already submitted a report to the NTF-WPS about the placement of around 300 meters floating barriers in the southeast portion of Bajo de Masinloc by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG).

The NTF-WPS is chaired by the National Security Adviser and is composed of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Justice and Department of National Defense, among others.

Tarriela said that they have yet to consult the matter with the President.

“Should the NTF-WPS recommend to the President kung ano man ang gagawin nating action dito, the PCG, BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources), and even the Armed Forces of the Philippines will comply kung ano man ang magiging desisyon dito ng ating national government,” he said.

(Should the NTF-WPS recommend to the President whatever action we take here, the PCG, BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources), and even the Armed Forces of the Philippines will comply with whatever the National Government’s decision is.)

In a statement on Sunday, September 24, after the PCG bared the matter, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri urged the PCG to cut and remove the floating barriers installed by the CCG.

“I would like to request our Philippine Coast Guard to immediately cut and remove all these illegal structures located at our West Philippine Sea not just to assert our sovereign rights to the area but to protect our fishermen from any possible accidents that may arise from these illegal structures,” he said.

“First of all, they have no right to put any structures within our Exclusive Economic Zone and secondly, these structures pose a danger to passing fishing boats that can get entangled on the lines and cause considerable damage to the propellers and engines of our fisherfolk,” he added.

The placement of the floating barriers was discovered during the conduct of routine maritime patrol on September 22 by the PCG and BFAR.

Amid the harassment of China and its aggressiveness in the West Philippine Sea, Tarriela said it was the first time that a Philippine vessel was able to anchor at around 300 meters from Scarborough, which is within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.

“This is a rock, in short, meron din tayong territorial sea of sovereignty sa 12 nautical miles na gini-generate ng Bajo de Masinloc. It is not just EEZ but we have a territorial sea over this,” he said.

Last week, the PCG also bared the massive damage in the marine environment and coral reef in the seabed of Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal where dozens of Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels have been monitored.

The PCG said the continued swarming for indiscriminate illegal and destructive fishing activities of the CMM in the area may have directly caused the degradation and destruction of the marine environment in the WPS features. (SunStar Philippines)


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