This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed on Saturday, June 3, that eight buoys placed in Philippine waters remained intact amid the allegation they had been removed. However, the PCG said they have yet to verify the condition of two other buoys.
In an interview with reporters on Saturday, PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said the eight buoys were still intact, according to PCG Palawan’s report. The two other buoys subject for validation were located in Balagtas (Irving) and Julian Felipe (Whitsun) reefs.
Balilo told Rappler that they were not looking for the two buoys but rather had yet to reach them because of big waves. The PCG spokesperson said once the weather conditions permit, they would immediately go to the buoy’s location.
When asked about the possibility that the buoys had been removed by other people or other countries’ coast guards, Balilo replied:
“Wala pa naman. Kailangang ma-check muna natin kung ano ‘yong reason do’n sa report. Baka mamaya, nando’n naman pala, so dapat maba-validate muna natin kung nawala nga ‘yong mga…may nawalang boya (There’s nothing yet. We have to check first the reason behind the report. What if the buoys are there? So, we need to validate if some buoys really went missing).”
Balilo added this was the first time they received an allegation that buoys placed by authorities in Philippine waters went missing.
In a report dated May 18, Sohu.com, a company based in Beijing, China, claimed that Chinese fishermen “fished out” all the buoys in Philippine waters under the Chinese coast guard’s protection. The report also alleged that the removal of buoys made the PCG “feel angry and helpless.”
Why this matters
The buoys are no ordinary devices – they are used as markers to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
In 2021, when the PCG installed the initial buoys in the Philippine Rise on the eastern seaboard, the coast guard said the area had been considered a special protected zone. The PCG added that buoys marked the designated exclusive food supply zone of the Philippines and would ensure safe navigation in the areas where they were placed.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea as its territory using its so-called 9-dash line principle. The country also erroneously claims some territories and features owned by the Philippines. However, these claims were rebuked by the Hague ruling.
The Hague ruling in 2016 stated that all islands in the disputed waterway within our exclusive economic zone belonged to the Philippines. It upheld the claims of the Philippines in the disputed territories in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Despite this, China retains its presence in some parts of Philippine waters. In 2021, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea expressed concern after it spotted around 220 Chinese vessels, said to be Chinese maritime militia, in Julian Felipe Reef, about 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.
China had also harassed Filipino ships on multiple occasions. In November 2021, Chinese coast guard ships fired water cannons on Philippine vessels en route to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal. A Chinese coast guard vessel also aimed a military-grade laser at the BRP Malapascua last February. – Rappler.com