Atin Ito: Mission accomplished

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
Atin Ito: Mission accomplished
A China Coast Guard ship passes one of the boats of Atin Ito Coalition volunteers who decided not to sail closer to Panatag Shoal yesterday. Inset shows fishermen raising food packs they received from the civilian resupply mission.
Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — “Diskarteng Pinoy” – the Filipino way – made the day for the Atin Ito Coalition’s “peace and solidarity regatta” as it managed to elude a Chinese blockade of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to accomplish its mission of delivering 1,000 liters of fuel and 200 food packs to Filipino fishermen in the area.

“This stands as a testament to the ingenuity, resourcefulness and bravery of the Filipino spirit amid formidable challenges. China may possess larger and more vessels, and wield strong water cannons, but we possess a secret weapon: our ‘diskarteng Pinoy,’ which, when coupled with determination and love for fellow citizens and country, can surmount even the most daunting adversity,” Atin Ito co-convenor and Akbayan president Rafaela David said.

Organizers said it was an advance team aboard the MV Franz Gavin, which completed the trip to Panatag – unmolested by the Chinese – after it left Subic Fishport a day ahead of the main convoy’s departure from Masinloc, Zambales on Wednesday.

“Despite China’s massive blockade, we managed to breach their illegal blockade, reaching the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc to support our fishers with essential supplies,” David said. “Mission accomplished.”

Atin Ito mission spokesman
Emman Hizon told The STAR the advance contingent managed to reach its destination – also called Bajo de Masinloc – and deliver supplies despite being shadowed by a China People’s Liberation Army Navy warship with bow number 175.

With the advance team’s having managed already to accomplish the main task of handing over food and fuel to fishermen, the main convoy of four civilian vessels escorted by at least three Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) boats – amid radio challenge from the Chinese – decided to cut short its trip some 50 nautical miles from Panatag Shoal and 10 nautical miles from the blockade set up by the China Coast Guard, according to Hizon.

But the main convoy, he said, was able to distribute fuel and supplies to fishermen and lay buoys and markers on its way back to Subic Fishport. The group is expected to arrive at midnight tonight.

“Atin Ito’s advance team has already reached the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc and distributed supplies to Filipino fishers. Mission accomplished! Atin Ito will now proceed to conduct the final leg of supply distribution in the current area, as there are no more Filipino fishers in BdM (Bajo de Masinloc) after they were reportedly sent away by various Chinese vessels,” organizers announced.

Yesterday’s “peace and solidarity regatta” was the second civilian supply mission to the West Philippine Sea following the one held in December last year. The latest mission benefitted a total of 144 Filipino fishermen from six mother boats and 36 small fishing vessels.

Atin Ito said the 10-member advance team that reached Panatag Shoal comprised members from Akbayan Party, Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan, and the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement.

Absurd, comical

“This feat mirrors the success of last December’s inaugural civilian mission, where Atin Ito’s smaller supply boat, ML Chowee, navigated past Chinese vessel harassment near Ayungin Shoal to deliver supplies to frontline workers on Lawak Island,” organizers said.

In a post on X, PCG Commodore Jay Tarriela, spokesman for the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said the Chinese “seem to overlook the fact that the international community now finds it both absurd and comical that Beijing is making such a fuss, all the while ignoring the fact that these waters falls within our Exclusive Economic Zone.”

“It is actually their large flotilla of vessels that are trespassing into Philippine waters,” he added.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, praised Atin Ito for its successful mission. “I stand in awe of the remarkable efforts of these brave men and women from the Atin Ito Coalition for their extraordinary resolve and resilience even in the face of adversity and blatant intimidation,” Estrada said.

“Their actions exemplify the best of the Filipino spirit and serve as an inspiration to all,” he added.

“Let us affirm our unwavering support for the Atin Ito Coalition and its noble mission. Their courage and compassion embody the true essence of bayanihan and their actions mirror best what it means to be Filipino,” he added.

On Pag-asa in the Kalayaan Island Group, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri called on the Chinese coast guard to leave the Philippine territorial seas.

“Maybe there is a sensitive listening device from there on their (China) ships. I want to say if they are listening, this is the territory of the Republic of the Philippines, it is not yours, it was ours before Magellan came, so if you can, leave,” Zubiri said in his speech at the groundbreaking for a planned Philippine Navy barracks and a Super Rural Health Unit in the island community.-  Ghio Ong, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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