AFP eyes more naval patrols in Bajo de Masinloc

By Priam Nepomuceno

January 23, 2024, 1:46 pm

<p>AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla <em>(Screengrab from PTV)</em></p>

AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla (Screengrab from PTV)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is planning to hold more naval patrols in the Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough Shoal), following China's latest harassment of Filipino fisherfolk in these waters.

"For the Philippine Navy (PN) since nagdidwindle na ho yun internal security operations natin (since our internal security operations are dwindling) then we can allocate more resources for our external defense. So we'll have more assets of our Navy circling around the area," AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said in an interview with CNN Philippines' "The Source" on Tuesday.

Padilla was responding to questions on what support the AFP can provide to the Philippine Coast Guard in the wake of the incident.

On Jan. 12, five Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) personnel aboard a rubber boat accosted a group of Filipino fisherfolk from the fishing boat, F/B "Legendary Jo" gathering sea shells at the south entrance of Bajo de Masinloc.

The CCG personnel reportedly forced these fishermen to throw away the sea shells they had collected before allowing them to leave.

She said that this support will be based on the guidelines of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea.

"And we are willing to do our best to prevent this incident from happening again in the future. We will ensure that the Filipinos can freely enjoy our aquatic resources, especially in this traditional fishing ground. We are hoping that CCG will respect this," Padilla added.

Padilla, meanwhile, said Filipino fisherfolk can continue fishing at the Bajo de Masinloc.

"These are territorial waters, we have all the right to be fishing in this water. So we will tell all fishermen they can continue with their fishing in these territorial waters and maipapangako po ng AFP na nadyan po ang supporta namin para sa kanila (and the AFP promises to support them)," Padilla stressed. (PNA)