April 17, 2024

In line with the vision of “Bagong Pilipinas” in achieving food security as a pivotal element in national development, the Philippine government has taken decisive action to protect the rights and safety of Filipino fishermen in the waters of Bajo de Masinloc.
The national government has directed the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to deploy their vessels for rotational deployment in BDM starting this month.
The PCG vessel, BRP Teresa Magbanua (MRRV-9701), recently completed a successful nine-day patrol from Feb. 1 to 9. Meanwhile, the BFAR vessel, BRP Datu Tamblot (MMOV-3005), has been conducting patrols in the waters of BDM since Feb. 14 and continues to do so at present. These efforts aim to ensure the safety and security of our Filipino fishermen in their traditional fishing grounds. Further, both PCG and BFAR were also directed to distribute food packs, groceries, and even fuel to support the fishermen in sustaining their activities in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc.
There is no truth to the statement of the Chinese Coast Guard that it expelled a BFAR vessel and PCG vessel that allegedly intruded into their waters. The National Security Council reaffirms the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Bajo de Masinloc and its surrounding waters within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone. These rights are recognized under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 Arbitral Award.
It is crucial to emphasize that the activities of the Filipino fishermen and the PCG and BFAR vessels in Bajo de Masinloc are fully compliant with national laws and consistent with the Philippines’ position on the West Philippine Sea. Any attempts by state actors to intimidate or drive away our fishermen are clear violations of international law and disregard the decision of the Arbitral Award.
Despite these challenges, the PCG and BFAR vessels will maintain professionalism in dealing with any unlawful and provocative behavior exhibited by China Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia vessels. This includes responding to dangerous and blocking maneuvers that blatantly disregard the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972.
The National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea reassures the Filipino people that our member agencies are fully dedicated to upholding our commitment to the President and the nation. Through a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, we stand unwavering in our mission to protect our sovereignty and safeguard our national interests in the West Philippine Sea. — SEC. EDUARDO AÑO, National Security Adviser