NSC’s Malaya: 40 civilian ships to join Christmas convoy in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said 40 civilian vessels have so far agreed to join the Christmas convoy in the West Philippine Sea next month.
According to Malaya, the convoy will pass the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal toward other selected maritime features and culminate at Pagasa Island.
Malaya said organizers of the Atin Ito coalition requested the presence of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to escort them during the activity.
He added that organizers have ongoing coordination with the PCG and the Western command for logistics of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Just imagine how hard it would be to move these 40 vessels, there are some logistical issues that need to be resolved,” Malaya said partly in Filipino during an ambush interview in Taguig City.
The Philippines occupies nine other maritime features – collectively known as Kalayaan Island Group –around the West Philippine Sea.
Initially, organizers sought to board the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal but they were not permitted due to security concerns.
The planned activity next month will be carried out to register defiance against China’s assertion of sovereignty in almost the entire South China Sea, including most of the western section of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
A 2016 international tribunal ruling, however, effectively dismissed China’s sweeping claims over the maritime area as it decided in favor of the Philippines.