MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard has installed five navigational buoys carrying the Philippine flag in four critical islands in the West Philippine Sea, namely Lawak Island, Likas Island, Parola Island, and Pag-asa Island.
According to the Coast Guard in a statement sent to media Wednesday, these ocean markers also communicate that the said vicinity waters are considered special protected zones where mining and oil exploration are prohibited to preserve their rich natural resources.
CG Adm. Artemio Abu, Philippine Coast Guard commandant, said he observed other foreign vessels during his visit to Pag-asa Island on May 14 to assess the buoy laying operations and check the morale of PCG personnel deployed on the island.
"During my visit to Pag-asa Island, I saw five PCG ships anchored in the vicinity with several Filipino fishing bancas. Several Vietnamese fishing boats, Chinese fishing vessels, and China Coast Guard vessels were not so far from their position, specifically at the vicinity waters off Subi Reef," he said.
“My guidance to them, we will challenge them. But according to the Coast Guard Fleet, the WPS is peaceful and the ships of Vietnam and China have shown respect for our mission,” he added.
READ: The @coastguardph installed five 30-FOOT-LONG NAVIGATIONAL BUOYS CARRYING THE PHILIPPINE FLAG in four critical islands in the WPS – Lawak Island, Likas Island, Parola Island, and Pag-asa Island.
?? https://t.co/uRG2ZfQSEf#DOTrPH ????????#CoastGuardPH#MaritimeSectorWorks pic.twitter.com/xiWKemVUxU— Philippine Coast Guard (@coastguardph) May 18, 2022
The PCG earlier hit the actions of a Chinese vessel that maneuvered close to a PCG ship in March, calling it a clear violation of the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
Abu led the arrival ceremony for the five Coast Guard vessels that laid out the Symbols of Coastal State Administration in the said vicinity waters from May 12 to May 14. These included BRP Corregidor, BRP Bojeador, BRP Suluan, BRP Capones, and Tug Boat Habagat.
According to CG Admiral Abu, the PCG will place more navigational buoys in other parts of the country's exclusive economic zone, especially in the WPS and Benham Rise.
The five newly-installed 30-foot buoys were part of the ten floating markers procured in Spain. They arrived in Cebu from Valencia, Spain on May 7.
They are equipped with modern marine aids to navigation lanterns and specialized mooring systems. They also have a remote monitoring system that uses satellite technology to transmit data to the PCG National Headquarters in Port Area, Manila.
Following the July 2016 arbitral ruling, there have been reports of China Coast Guard ships blocking access to and driving away Filipino fishermen from the traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales.
"I know it was not an easy task, but [our combined efforts] led to the resounding success of installing our sovereign markers that are now flashing lights at night to guide sailors as they traverse the treacherous waters of the WPS," Abu also said.
"These buoys are now our source of pride and honor in serving our great nation. And because our fellow Coast Guardians braved numerous dangers during the said noble mission, they were able to bring the PCG to the next level of success."
— Franco Luna with report from Patricia Lourdes Viray