Six more navigational buoys will be installed by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) within this year to ensure safety, security, peace and order in the country’s territorial seas.
This was revealed as the PCG welcomed on Monday, May 15, a 317-strong contingent who returned after successfully installing five floating markers in Patag (Flat) Island, Balagtas (Irving) Reef, Kota (Loaita) Island, Panata Island (Lankiam Cay), and Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef – all in the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratly Islands) – last week.
Adm. Artemio Abu, PCG Commandant, said the planned installation of additional buoys is part of their commitment to assert the country’s sovereignty over the tension-filled waters.
PCG to install 6 more floating markers in WPS
At a glance
Six more navigational buoys will be installed in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) within this year to ensure safety, security, and peace and order in the country’s territorial seas, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.
(The Philippine Coast Guard welcomes the 317-strong PCG personnel who are part of the Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan at Pier 15 in Port Area, Manila on May 15, 2023. The contingent installed navigational buoys in the West Philippine Sea last week to serve as markers of the country's territorial seas and to guide mariners who pass through the area. Photo by Ali Vicoy / Manila Bulletin)
This was revealed as the PCG welcomed on Monday, May 15, a 317-strong contingent who returned after successfully installing five floating markers in Patag (Flat) Island, Balagtas (Irving) Reef, Kota (Loaita) Island, Panata Island (Lankiam Cay), and Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef – all in the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratly Islands) – through Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan's “Oplan Kaligtasan at Soberanya” last week.
The PCG has yet to disclose where the six additional markers will be placed.
But Adm. Artemio Abu, PCG Commandant, said the planned installation of additional buoys is part of their commitment to assert the country’s sovereignty over the tension-filled waters.
“Tensions and disputes over territory occurs due to boundaries at sea are merely imaginary lines drawn on water. These imaginary lines move and change with every perspective, every map, and every nation with its own interest,” Abu said during the arrival honors for the buoy laying contingent at the Coast Guard Fleet in Pier 15, Port Area, Manila.
“It is important for us to mark our territory by solidifying these boundaries announcing to the world the scope of our sovereignty. Of course, we cannot draw lines on water but marine buoys are as close we can get to internationally recognized markers of our territory,” he added.
Abu congratulated the contingent for braving the odds and facing the challenges posed by Chinese vessels.
It was revealed that a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel tailed the four PCG ships and a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel that executed the operational plan.
The CCG vessel sailed approximately two nautical miles from the PCG and BFAR ships during the installation of the last buoy in the vicinity waters near Julian Felipe Reef.
“You have done our country a great service and everyone who travels those maritime routes and sea lanes will be alerted that they are entering Philippine territory,” Abu said.
The PCG started installing the navigational buoys in the WPS last year. The PCG had installed five 30-foot floating markers bearing the image of the Philippine flag in Pag-asa (Thitu) Island (two buoys), and one each in Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Likas (West York) Island, and Parola Island (Northeast Cay).
National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año, who served as the guest of honor and speaker during the arrival ceremony, encouraged the PCG to continue prioritizing the maintenance of navigational safety in the country’s territorial waters “to ensure the protection of our waters and the people who rely on them.”
“Installing and maintaining navigational aids in the WPS benefits not only our vessels, but also those of neighboring countries—promoting safe and efficient maritime trade and commerce,” said Año said, who also serves as the chairperson of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS).
“Consequently, the installation of buoys with the Philippine flag further signifies the country’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction over our EEZ [exclusive economic zone]. This act of marking the boundaries with our national flag signals our unwavering resolve to safeguard our aquatic borders and resources,” he continued.
“Furthermore, it underscores our adherence to global statutes, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which acknowledges coastal states' entitlement to manage their EEZs,” he added.