The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has installed five 30-foot-long navigational buoys carrying the Philippine flag in four critical islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to mark its territory and assert the country’s sovereignty in the disputed waters.
Admiral Artemio Abu, PCG Commandant, led the arrival ceremony Tuesday, May 18, for the five coast guard vessels that laid out the symbols of coastal state administration in Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Likas (West York) Island, Parola Island (Northeast Cay), and Pag-asa (Thitu) Island.
PCG vessels BRP Corregidor (AE-891), BRP Bojeador (AE-56), BRP Suluan (MRRV-4406), BRP Capones (MRRV-4407), and tug boat Habagat (TB-271) were welcomed by Abu and other top officials at Pier 13 in Port Area, Manila after the successful mission held from May 12 to 14.
"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,” Abu said.
The PCG Commandant thanked Rear Adm. Joseph Coyme, head of Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan; Rear Adm. Charlie Rances, commander of PCG Fleet; and Commo. Rommel Supangan, commander of PCG Palawan District, for the successful installation of the floating buoys in the WPS.
He said the buoys will now serve as “flashing lights at night to guide sailors as they traverse the treacherous waters of the West Philippine Sea.”
The five newly-installed buoys were part of the 10 floating markers that were procured by the PCG in Valencia, Spain. It arrived in Cebu last May 7.
The buoys 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.
Aside from serving as guides to sailors and coast guardians, the ocean markers also signify that the vicinity waters where they were installed are considered special protected zones, hence, mining and oil exploration activities are prohibited to preserve their rich natural resources.
During the assessment of the buoy laying operations in Pag-asa Island last May 14, Abu personally witnessed the event and urged the coast guardians to continue asserting the Philippines’ sovereignty in the area as he saw several Chinese and Vietnamese vessels near 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," Abu shared.
“Ang guidance ko sa kanila, tayo ang mang-challenge sa kanila. Pero ayon sa Coast Guard Fleet, mapayapa ang West Philippine Sea at nagpakita ng respeto ang mga barko ng Vietnam at China sa isinagawa nating misyon (My guidance to our men is to challenge them . But according to the Coast Guard fleet, the West Philippine Sea has been peaceful and the Vietnamese and Chinese vessels showed respect to the mission that we were conducting),” he added.
Abu said that additional navigational buoys will be placed in other parts of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), particularly in the WPS and Benham Rise, in the coming months.