THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has removed the floating barriers installed by China in the southeast portion of Bajo de Masinloc (BdM), which is within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
In a statement, PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea (WPS) Commodore Jay Tarriela said they conducted a special operation to remove the floating barriers in compliance with the order of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. through National Task Force for the WPS chairman National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Año.
Tarriela said the barriers installed by China posed a hazard to navigation, which is a “clear violation” of international law, including the 2016 arbitral ruling that affirms the BdM is among the traditional fishing grounds of Filipino fishermen.
He said it also denies Filipino fishermen of their livelihood activities in the area, which is an integral part of the country’s national territory.
“The decisive action of the PCG to remove the barrier aligns with international law and the Philippines’ sovereignty over the shoal,” said Tarriela.
“The PCG remains committed to upholding international law, safeguarding the welfare of Filipino fisherfolk, and protecting the rights of the Philippines in its territorial waters,” he added.
China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said they installed floating barriers in the area, which they refer to as Huangyan Island, in order to “stop and warn off” Philippine vessels from trespassing.
He said the shoal is China’s inherent territory and that it has “indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters and sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters.” (SunStar Philippines)