September 26, 2023
MANILA – Following the order of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) removed the floating barrier in the southeast entrance of Scarborough Shoal installed by China.
Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea (WPS), on Monday said that through Marcos’ behest, Secretary Eduardo Año who heads the National Task Force for the WPS ordered the execution of the “special operation.”
On September 22, China Coast Guard installed a floating barrier in the shoal also known as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal, measuring approximately 300 meters long, the PCG reported on Sunday.
“The barrier posed a hazard to navigation, a clear violation of international law,” Tarriela said in a statement. “It also hinders the conduct of fishing and livelihood activities of Filipino fisherfolk in Bajo de Masinloc, which is an integral part of the Philippine national territory.”
“The decisive action of the PCG to remove the barrier aligns with international law and the Philippines’ sovereignty over the shoal,” he added.
China asserts that it owns almost all of the areas in the South China Sea, including the WPS through its now 10-dash line.
But the Philippines challenged the then nine-dash line before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping demarcation in 2016.
“The 2016 Arbitral Award has affirmed that Bajo de Masinloc is the traditional fishing ground of Filipino fishermen,” Tarriela said.
“Thus, any obstruction hindering the livelihoods of Filipino fisherfolk in the shoal violates the international law. It also infringes on the Philippines’ sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc,” he added.