Marcos orders PCG, BFAR to maintain presence in Bajo de Masinloc

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (Bongbong Marcos Facebook)

PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has directed the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to maintain a “rational deployment” in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as he maintained the country’s sovereignty in the area amid the continued presence of Chinese authorities in the disputed waters.

In a media forum, PCG spokesman for WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said Marcos made the order in line with the administration’s “Bagong Pilipinas” campaign.

Tarriela said Chinese vessels continue their presence and dangerous maneuvers in Bajo de Masinloc, a traditional fishing ground for Filipinos particularly fishermen from Zambales, Pangasinan, and other coastal areas in the Northern Luzon.

He said just recently, Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy vessels were present in the area “to make sure that the southeast entrance of Bajo de Masinloc is well-guarded by putting floating barriers every time they monitored Philippine vessels nearby.”

“These are the four Chinese maritime militia that we also documented who actively participated in blocking and also carrying out dangerous maneuvers to prevent the BFAR vessel in getting close to Bajo de Masinloc,” Tarriela said.

“We experienced of course dangerous maneuver … and then shadowing not just from the PLA Navy but even from the Chinese Coast Guard and also the Chinese maritime militia. There is also participation from the Chinese maritime militia,” he added.

Meanwhile, BFAR is continuously providing assistance to Filipino fishermen fishing in Bajo de Masinloc.

BFAR spokesman Naz Briguera said 14,000 liters of diesel fuel, 60 liters of motor oil and other provisions were provided to 21 commercial fishing boats present in Bajo de Masinloc during their latest mission last week.

He also belied reports that BFAR assets were driven away by the CCG patrolling the Philippine waters.

“Katulad po ng nabanggit din sa pahayag ng National Security Council, wala pong katotohanan doon sa balitang naitaboy ng mga banyagang barko ng Tsina ang BRP Tamblot sa Bajo de Masinloc na lumaot upang magbigay po ng suporta sa mga mangingisdang kasalukuyang nangingisda sa lugar,” Briguera said.

“Unang-una, hindi po dapat itinataboy ang barko ng Pilipinas sa katubigang legal na pag-aari ng bansa. Sa kabila po ng mga hamon, matagumpay po ang ginawang paglalayag ng BRP Tamblot at ang mga gawain nito ay ayon sa isinasaad ng ating batas at sumasakop na pandaigdigang batas katulad po ng UNCLOS,” he added.

Briguera said they also received reports from Filipino fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc that Chinese authorities were deliberately damaging the areas through cyanide fishing so they will no longer visit there.

He said China’s action is a clear violation to international laws.

In September last year, the PCG noted “severe damage” in the marine environment and coral reef in some portions of the WPS allegedly done by China.

China refuses to recognize the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands which invalidates its claims in areas falling within the nine-dash line which is over 90 percent of the WPS and affirms the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Filipino fishermen in the area.(SunStar Philippines)


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