September 27, 2023

Bicol Express News

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PCG increase presence in West Philippine Sea to help PH fishermen

PCG photo

The Philippine Coast Guard on Friday said it has strengthened its presence in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to help Filipino vessels which would “greatly increase” in the coming weeks.

According to PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu, since February 2, the Coast Guard has deployed BRP Teresa Magbanua (MRRV-9701) — one of its largest maritime assets to the Kalayaan Island Group.

PCG photo

“As the summer season draws near, the PCG expects the number of Filipino fishing vessels that sail and fish in the WPS to greatly increase,” the PCG said in a statement.

“As the PCG steadily strengthens and increases its Maritime Patrol, Search and Rescue, and Law Enforcement operations in the WPS, it remains firmly committed to safeguarding Philippine interests and rights within the bounds of international law and conventions,” it added.

“Despite the danger in patrolling our waters in the West Philippine Sea, the PCG’s men and women will always be prepared to fulfill our obligations not only to the present but also to the future generations of Filipinos to the fullest!” PCG Commandant said.

PCG photo

Last February 6, a PCG vessel was attacked by the Chinese Coast Guard by using a green laser, causing temporary blindness to the crew.

The vessel was supporting a rotation and resupply mission of the Philippine Navy in Ayungin Shoal in the WPS, where the country maintains its presence through the BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned vessel that hosted a small contingent of military personnel to assert the country’s claim to the disputed waters since 1999.

Fishers’ group Pamalakaya condemned the latest incident and urged the Marcos government to protest the ‘China Coast Guard Law’ that justified the unabated offense of Chinese Navy, not only to PH Navy but mostly to local fisherfolks.

“The recent harassment of China Coast Guard against Philippine authorities through military-grade laser-pointing is courtesy of Beijing’s China Coast Guard Law. The law allows the Chinese Coast Guard to flagrantly display military might and other acts of aggression towards foreign vessels or structures in the South China Sea. This should be strongly condemned by the Marcos administration and ultimately call for repeal of the Coast Guard Law”, Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

The fishers’ group also challenged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “exhaust all its naval and maritime assets in the face of aggression by Chinese forces”.

Citing section 3 of the Philippine Constitution, PAMALAKAYA said that “it should be the primary goal of the AFP to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory at all times”.

“We dare the AFP to uphold its constitutional mandate and do whatever it takes to secure our national sovereignty. For the record, this demand is not inciting war, but a call for active defense of our territory from our authorities who are constitutionally mandated to do so. In the face of Chinese aggression, the Philippine Navy should strengthen their forces, build more maritime outposts, and enforce the basic rules of engagement to prevent any shameful retreat and abandonment of our territorial waters,” Hicap said.