PCG, BFAR start rotational deployment of ships in Bajo de Masinloc

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 16, 2024, 4:03 pm

<p>National Security Adviser Eduardo Año<em> (PNA file photo)</em></p>

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año (PNA file photo)

MANILA – A regular rotational deployment of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) ships in Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough Shoal) will take place starting this month, National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año said on Friday.

In a statement, Año said the move is part of efforts to secure Filipino fisherfolk in these waters and to help achieve the government's vision of food security, which is a pivotal element in national development under President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s "Bagong Pilipinas" governance brand.

"The Philippine government has taken decisive action to protect the rights and safety of Filipino fishermen in the waters of Bajo De Masinloc (BDM)," Año said.

Earlier, the PCG multi-role response vessel, BRP Magbanua (MRRV-9701) completed a successful nine-day patrol in Bajo de Masinloc from Feb. 1 to 9, while the BFAR multi-role offshore patrol ship, BRP Tamblot (MRROV-3005) has also been patrolling since Feb. 14.

Año said these efforts were to ensure the safety and security of our Filipino fishermen in their traditional fishing grounds.

"Further, both PCG and BFAR were also directed to distribute food packs, groceries, and even fuel to support the fishermen in sustaining their activities in the vicinity of BDM," he added.

Año, meanwhile, dismissed reports of the China Coast Guard's claims that it "expelled a BFAR vessel and PCG vessel that allegedly intruded into their waters."

"The National Security Council (NSC) reaffirms the Philippines' sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Bajo de Masinloc and its surrounding waters within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ). These rights are recognized under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award," said Año, also the head of the NSC.

He added that the activities of the Filipino fishermen and the PCG and BFAR vessels in the Bajo de Masinloc were fully compliant with national laws and consistent with the Philippines' position on the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Any attempts by state actors to intimidate or drive away our fishermen are clear violations of international law and disregard the decision of the arbitral award, Año said.

"Despite these challenges, the PCG and BFAR vessels will maintain professionalism in dealing with any unlawful and provocative behavior exhibited by China Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia vessels. This includes responding to dangerous and blocking maneuvers that blatantly disregard the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972," he noted. (PNA)