First batch of Christmas convoy sets sail to West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines — The first batch of Christmas convoy in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) began its journey on Friday morning.
Loaded with essential donations and supplies, over 40 volunteers comprising youth leaders and fisherfolk representatives from the WPS advocacy group “Atin Ito” were aboard the civilian vessel M/V Kapitan Felix Oca, which departed from Manila and is expected to arrive in El Nido, Palawan, on Saturday.
Upon arrival in El Nido, the volunteers will join forces with a larger contingent of 100 fisherfolk, forming part of a 40-boat convoy set to navigate the general vicinity of Ayungin Shoal, Patag, and Lawak islands of the Kalayaan Island Group from Dec. 10 to 12 to deliver essential supplies to fisherfolk communities and frontliners in the area.
Akbayan Party President Rafaela David, a convenor of Atin Ito, expressed pride in the commencement of the “meaningful journey” to support fisherfolk communities and front liners in the WPS.
“As we sail forth, let our collective commitment echo in the waves: the spirit of Christmas is not confined to festivities but resonates in our shared duty to improve the living and working conditions of our fisherfolks and frontliners in the WPS,” David said in a statement.
“It embodies our nation’s resilience and our peaceful but determined defense of our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Our voyage is a testament to the enduring strength of Filipino unity, even in the face of foreign aggression and intrusion within our beloved West Philippine Sea,” she added.
The activity was launched as China continued to assert sovereignty in almost the entire South China Sea, including most of the western section of Manila’s exclusive economic zone.
A 2016 international tribunal ruling, however, effectively dismissed China’s sweeping claims while ruling in favor of the Philippines.