West Philippine Sea

China briefly blocks rescue of Filipino fishermen near Bajo de Masinloc


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China briefly blocks rescue of Filipino fishermen near Bajo de Masinloc

CHINA'S ATTEMPT TO BLOCK. The China Coast Guard, by deploying two rigid hull inflatable boats, attempted to block the efforts of the Philippine Coast Guard's efforts to rescue 8 Filipino fishermen from their sinking fishing vessel off waters in Bajo de Masinloc.

Philippine Coast Guard

Rear Admiral Armand Balilo says the Chinese Coast Guard eventually helped out in the rescue operations

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese ships attempted to block the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) rescue mission on Saturday, June 29, when the agency was responding to an incident in waters near Bajo de Masinloc after the engine of Filipino fishing boat “Akio” exploded, leaving two injured.

China briefly blocks rescue of Filipino fishermen near Bajo de Masinloc

The PCG’s BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) was assigned to respond to the incident, which happened 17 nautical miles southwest of Bajo de Masinloc as it was also patrolling the waters. According to a statement on Sunday, PCG personnel provided medical assistance to two fishers who suffered second-degree burns and gave food and medical aid to all eight onboard.

However, they encountered a hiccup during the rescue operation.

China briefly blocks rescue of Filipino fishermen near Bajo de Masinloc

“The Chinese Coast Guard deployed two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) not to assist the PCG, but to obstruct and hinder their efforts in rescuing the two injured Filipino fishermen,” said Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesman for the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), on Sunday.

Bajo de Masinloc is a traditional fishing ground for fisherfolk of different nationalities, including Filipino, Chinese, and Vietnamese. China is claiming it owns all of the South China Sea, which includes waters within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, despite a 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidates its claims.

Tarriela said the PCG was able to outmaneuver China’s RHIBs and get the fishermen onboard the BRP Sindangan.

PCG rescues 8 fishermen after vessel's engine exploded
RESCUE MISSION. The Philippine Coast Guard provided aid and medical assistance to the 8 fishermen onboard “Akio,” after the fishing vessel’s engine exploaded in waters near Bajo de Masinloc on Saturday, June 29.

The PCG said the CCG issued radio challenges, shadowed, and blocked Philippine vessels. However, PCG spokesman Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said the CCG eventually helped out in the rescue operations.

“The CCG and PLA Navy vessels stopped shadowing our ship when they were informed by the Angel of the Sea onboard about the humanitarian mission,” Balilo said in a separate statement.

“Akio,” while half-submerged, is being towed by the BRP Sindangan to the shores of Subic in Zambales. BRP Sindangan is expected to arrive by 9 am on Monday, July 1. – Rappler.com

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