The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is now accompanying fishermen at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) and Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea following the reported harassment involving Chinese vessels earlier this year, an official said Friday.
Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said they have ramped up their visibility in the disputed waters following the incident, even though they have “little number of Coast Guard assets.”
One of their means to make sure that fishermen are properly monitored, Tarriela said, is to give fishing vessels clearance before they leave.
The public however should not expect the PCG to be deployed in vast areas of the West Philippine Sea given their limited assets, he said.
The Coast Guard has 3 offshore patrol vessels and other smaller vessels. The offshore patrol vessels take turns in patrolling the West Philippine Sea, he added.
Tarriela is also seeking more stations in the WPS where the Coast Guard could monitor developments.
He said only the military were stationed previously in nine islands in Palawan. It was only until last year that the PCG went here, he added.
After his return from China, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he and President Xi Jinping agreed that Beijing would not stop Filipinos from fishing in the country’s waters, clarifying former National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos’ statement that Beijing wants to partner with the local fisherfolk.
China and the Philippines are at odds over the South China Sea, with Beijing claiming sovereignty over almost the entire area despite an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of the sea, and Manila ordered its military last month to boost its presence in the area.