Coast Guard Admiral Artemio Abu. Picture file
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) continues to expand the country’s maritime domain awareness in the Western Philippine Sea (WPS), this time by establishing Command Observation Posts (COPs) on Likas Island, l Lawak Island and Parola Island.
Coastguard Admiral Artemio Abu said the PCG’s Kaligtasan sa Karagatan task force had built a smart house and installed radio communications on the three islands.
Construction was carried out with the largest WPS Coast Guard contingent installing the five COPs, 30-foot-long navigational buoys, on critical islands in the region from May 12-14.
Abu said these COPs will optimize the strategic deployment of PCG assets by monitoring the movement of merchant vessels in the surrounding waters and communicating maritime incidents to PCG’s national headquarters in the port area of Manila.
“Through these COPs, we are improving our capabilities to promote maritime security, maritime search and rescue and the protection of the marine environment,” he added in a statement released on Friday.
Abu said the activation of these COPs is in line with the directives of President Rodrigo Duterte and Department of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade to support the country’s shipping and shipping industry by promoting maritime safety and security.
Likas Island, Lawak Island and Parola Island are all administered by the Philippines as part of Kalayaan, Palawan.
They are located a few kilometers from the island of Pag-asa, the largest island occupied by the Philippines in the Western Philippine Sea and where Filipino soldiers are stationed.
The islands are also claimed by the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The installation of the navigational buoys is a notice to the rest of the international community that the Philippines is asserting its sovereignty over the Kalayaan Islands Group (KIG), according to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The statement by CHR’s Executive Director, Jacqueline Ann de Guia, was made on Friday as she praised the PCG for installing the buoys in a bid to ensure safer navigation of ships and assert the sovereignty of the countries on disputed waters in the WPS.
The navigational buoys were put in place by the Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas Corregidor (AE-891), BRP Bojeador (AE-56), BRP Suluan (MRRV-4406), BRP Capones (MRRV-4407) and Tug Boat Habagat (TB-271).
Quoting a Supreme Court decision, de Guia said: “Although the Philippines has always claimed sovereignty over the [disputed territories] for several decades, these peripheral areas have been located at an appreciable distance from the nearest coastline of the Philippine archipelago.
China continues to claim sovereignty over the territory, including three other areas.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), however, in a 501-page unanimous award and an 11-page press release, had declared that the Philippines had sovereign rights over the Panganiban or Mischief Reef, Ayungin or Second Thomas Shoal and Recto or Reed Bank of Palawan.
These were assigned to the Philippines because they are part of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Reef.
De Guia said the APC had ruled that China had no historical rights to the resources of the South China Sea and that those rights were extinguished to the extent that they were inconsistent with the exclusive economic zones provided for in the Convention. of the United Nations on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
She added that China had no legal basis for invoking the “nine-dash line” to assert its claim to the disputed territories.
“The CHR commends the efforts of the Philippine Coast Guard to assert Philippine sovereignty over disputed territories where China has built artificial islands and interfered with Philippine fishing activities,” de Guia noted.
“No state should deprive our Filipino fishermen of their livelihood in our national territories. The installation of navigational buoys is a notice to the rest of the international community that the Philippines asserts its sovereignty over the Kalayaan group of islands” , she said.
The newly installed buoys are among 10 floating markers purchased from Spain.
These buoys, which arrived in Cebu from Valencia on May 7, are equipped with modern marine lanterns to aid navigation and specialized mooring systems.
They also have a remote monitoring system that uses satellite technology to transmit data to PCG’s national headquarters in the port area.
Earlier on Thursday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, General Andres Centino, visited one of the country’s most remote detachments in Palawan and urged troops to further reinforce security operations in the region.
In a statement also on Friday, AFP said Centino flew to Bugsuk Island in Balabac, Palawan, as part of his regular troop visits, especially to remote military bases and detachments.
The military leader thanked the troops guarding the detachment in Singkab Port for their dedication to keeping the country safe.
Centino commended the soldiers for their contribution to the holding of safe and secure elections on May 9 in the municipality of Balabac.
WITH REPORTS BY CHRISTIAN CROW MAGHANAY AND FRANCIS EARL CUETO