PCG to secure flotilla in Christmas convoy in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will escort civilian ships participating in the so-called Christmas convoy in the West Philippine Sea, its chief revealed Friday.
Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan said the PCG is currently preparing for the December 10 event which will involve 40 civilian vessels so far.
The convoy will travel around Ayungin Shoal toward other selected maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and will conclude at Pagasa Island.
“As early as now, we are preparing our security personnel and positioning our vessels to uphold maritime security and safety during the three-day humanitarian initiative,” Gavan said in a statement.
“As our fellow Filipinos step foot on Pag-asa Island, we hope this experience will ignite the spirit of patriotism and inspire them to stand with us in safeguarding the country’s sovereign rights within our exclusive economic zones,” he added.
The Philippines occupies nine other maritime features – collectively known as Kalayaan Island Group – in the West Philippine Sea.
Initially, the organizers sought to board the BRP Sierra Madre, but authorities barred them from doing so due to security concerns.
The Christmas convoy would be carried out in a show of opposition to 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 decision, however, effectively dismissed China’s sweeping claims as it ruled in favor of the Philippines.