The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) took advantage of their presence at the West Philippine Sea (WPS) for a maritime patrol and training exercises to assist local fishermen its personnel would cross paths with near the Bajo de Masinloc in Zambales.
In a statement, the PCG said they distributed relief packs, consist of three kilograms of rice, 10 pieces of canned goods, and two packs of noodles to the fishermen.
Local fishermen have been complaining of hardships to catch fish not only due to the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels even inside the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone but also due to the presence of hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels.
It was recalled that former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio accused President Duterte of striking a verbal agreement with Chinese President Xi Jin Ping for Chinese fishermen to fo on with their fishing activities in the West Philippine Sea.
PCG, NAMAHAGI NG TULONG SA MGA MANGINGISDA KASABAY NG MARITIME TRAINING SA BAJO DE MASINLOC Ngiti ang ipinambati ng...Posted by Philippine Coast Guard on Monday, April 26, 2021
The Coast Guard said it also checked it the fishermen have a radio to immediately call for help and receive information about the latest weather.
“Layon nitong maitaguyod ang kaligtasan ng mga mangingisda at masigurong mayroon silang sapat na pagkain at inumin sa laot (It aims to promote the safety of fishermen and ensure they have enough food and drink supplies at sea),” the PCG said.
“Bilang isang 'humanitarian armed service', mandato ng Coast Guard na itaguyod ang seguridad ng ating katubigan at protektahan ang kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan na nakaasa sa karagatan para mabigyan ng maayos na buhay ang kanilang pamilya (As a ‘humanitarian armed service’, the Coast Guard is mandated to promote the security of our waters and protect the welfare of our countrymen who depend on the ocean to provide a decent life for their families),” it added.
PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said their ships, BRP Gabriela Silang and BRP Sindangan, have started the maritime training near Bajo de Masinloc off the waters of Zambales on Saturday, April 24.
He added the BRP Cabra, BRP Malapascua, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels have also done ship interoperability exercises since last week near the Pagasa Island which is within the territory of Palawan.
Aside from the WPS, the PCG said the capital ships will also perform maritime exercises in the Batanes Group of Islands, Benham Rise, as well as in the southern and eastern portions of the country.
The Coast Guard said it also planned to conduct medical and dental missions among local residents and coastal families in the Pagasa Island next week.
Last month, the country protested the presence of around 220 Chinese vessels believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia at the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef in the WPS.