Two buoys in WPS previously reported as removed still in place
MANILA, Philippines — The two navigational buoys at Balagtas Reef and at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) remain intact, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, the PCG deployed a Cessna Caravan 2081 plane in Palawan to carry out a maritime domain awareness flight, according to the PCG spokesperson for WPS affairs, Commo. Jay Tarriela.
“Following the operation, it was confirmed that the two navigational buoys in Balagtas Reef (Irving) and Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun) which had been previously reported as removed, are still in their original positions,” Tarriela said in a statement.
“The PCG’s successful mission in Palawan is a reminder of its unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety and security of Philippine waters.”
Earlier, a Chinese media report claimed that Chinese fishermen had collected all the buoys deployed by the Philippines with the protection of Chinese Coast Guard vessels.
However, the PCG spokesperson, Rear Adm. Armand Balilo, said that eight of the 10 markers so far placed in the waters off the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) remained “intact” in their designated areas within the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone. He could not, however, confirm the status of the buoys at Balagtas Reef and at Julian Felipe Reef.
The two buoys were among the five 30-foot markers that the PCG installed from May 10 to 12.
Three other markers were dropped by the PCG Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan in the waters near the Philippine-occupied islands of Patag (Flat), Kota (Loaita), and Panata (Lankiam Cay), which are all under the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan province.
In 2022, five buoys were installed near the islands of Lawak (Nanshan), Likas (West York), Parola (Northeast Cay), and Pag-asa (Thitu).