PCG vows to remove future shoal barriers

Ghio Ong - Agence France-Presse
PCG vows to remove future shoal barriers
The Chinese Coast Guard has installed a floating barrier in the southern portion of Bajo de Masinloc, a traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales.
Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vowed yesterday to “do whatever it takes” to remove any more floating barriers installed by China in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

The remarks came after an aerial inspection of the shoal – also called Bajo de Masinloc – on Thursday confirmed that a 300-meter floating barrier, which ignited the latest diplomatic row between Beijing and Manila, had been taken away.

A Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources plane flew over the shoal and journalists on board saw access to its shallow waters unblocked, although the PCG noted the presence of three China Coast Guard vessels and a maritime militia ship.

Two of the CCG ships were inside the lagoon of the shoal while the third was “patrolling outside the vicinity,” PCG spokesman for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela said. Two Filipino fishing vessels were also in the vicinity.

The floating barrier was found across the entrance to the shoal last week during a routine Philippine government resupply mission to Filipino fishermen.

In a special operation ordered by President Marcos, Philippine Coast Guard personnel cut a rope tethering the barrier to an anchor, allowing it to drift.

“In the next coming months, if ever that barrier will once again be in place, the Philippine Coast Guard will do whatever it takes for us to remove the barrier,” Tarriela told reporters, as he sat next to an anchor seized during the mission. 

He said it would be up to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea, chaired by Marcos and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, to decide what to do with the anchor, which weighs some 20 to 30 kilos.

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