MANILA — For the first time since the dispute in the West Philippine Sea erupted between China and the Philippines, the Philippine Coastguard (PCG) has successfully conducted a supply mission to the Pag-asa Island last week.
BRP Batangas was able to deliver food, groceries, gasoline and other items for the soldiers stationed on the island and also for the people living in the area.
PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo says their personnel did not encounter any harassment or untoward incident in the course of the 3-day voyage to reach Pag-asa Island from Puerto Princesa in Palawan.
Pag-asa Island still has no port so a small boat fetched the supplies from BRP Batangas.
Civilians who also wished to visit their relatives were allowed to board the ship.
Coastguard has also added its personnel stationed in the island.
PCG is also assessing the possibility of conducting regular resupply mission in the island.
“Sa tingin ko naman hindi naman tayo gagalawin doon sapagkat puti yung barko natin,” Cdr. Balilo said.
(I think we will not be harassed there because these are white ships)
“Di kasi namin magawa noon sapagkat may utos ang pamahalaan na we should not do anything to jeopardize ang posisyon natin doon sa International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. So, di tayo gumagalaw doon sapagkat walang blessing ng pamahalaan,” Balilo added.
(We were not able to do it in the past because there was a directive from government that we should not do anything that will jeopardize our position in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. So, we did not sail there because there was no permission from the government)
The Philippine Coastguard says the mission will not solely be meant to bring goods but also to patrol our territorial waters in the West Philippine Sea.
“Maganda para sa atin kasi we could continue to patrol the area and we could say na mayroon tayong presence lalo na doon sa Pag-asa. In fact, maganda rin kasi makikita ng mga tao roon na mayroong government vessel on their side.”
(It is good for us because we could continue to patrol the area and we could say that we have presence in the pag-asa island. in fact the people would also sea the presence of a government vessel that is on their side.)
In the past, there were instances that Chinese coastguard and civilian vessels were reportedly seen near the Pag-asa Island. — Victor Cosare | UNTV News & Rescue