'Christmas convoy' that went to WPS took 'unnecessary risk,' says group | Global News

‘Christmas convoy’ that went to WPS took ‘unnecessary risk,’ says group

/ 11:53 AM December 13, 2023

MASS AT SEA (December 12, 2023) ‘Running priest’ Fr. Robert Reyes celebrates a Holy Mass aboard TS Kapitan Felix Oca midway to the journey of the ‘Christmas convoy’ heading to Lawak Island while a China Coast Guard vessel (shown at the horizon in this photo) shadows the group on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 10, 2023 in West Philippine Sea. (Photo by Geraldford Ticke, Inquirer Luzon)

MANILA, Philippines — Allowing civilians to board a ship headed to the disputed territories within Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in West Philippine Sea constituted an “unnecessary” risk, a youth group said on Wednesday.

Samahan Ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) said while the intentions of the civilian supply mission was good, it needlessly put civilians in peril.


“What would we have done if the Chinese vessels did indeed ram into the civilian vessels, sending over a hundred Filipino civilians into the water?” SPARK National Coordinator John Lazaro asked in a statement.


Lazaro was referring to ‘Atin Ito’ (This is Ours) coalition’s so-called ‘Christmas Convoy’ which set sail on December 8 to the areas of Ayungin Shoal, Patag, and Lawak islands of Kalayaan island group in Palawan.

The convoy, joined by civilian volunteers from Atin Ito, was supposed to deliver gifts and supplies to the Filipino troops and fishing communities stationed in the vicinity of Kalayaan.

But on December 10, the convoy’s mothership – M/V Kapitan Felix Oca – was forced to turn back after being shadowed by Chinese Coast Guard (CCG).

Lazaro said the civilian convoy “achieved nothing” but to aggravate CCG and maritime militia, which supposedly further increased the risk of miscalculation.

“The goal of political action should always be to enact political change, but it is hard to see what this convoy achieves other than make the Chinese coast guard angrier, and, thus, make it more likely that the American military steps in sooner,” he said.

He believes a better approach is to simply avoid a regional conflict that can endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.


Prior to setting sail, Atin Ito convenor and Akbayan Party President Rafaela David said the convoy was meant to show the “nation’s resilience and our peaceful but determined defense of our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, Task Force on the West Philippine Sea Spokesperson Jay Tarriela said China is just inclined to engage in “illegal and hostile actions.”

“It is evident that they carry out these illegal actions because they believe they can, taking advantage of the perceived vulnerability of countries like the Philippines to assert their dominance,” he stressed in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

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Over the weekend, Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia rammed and fired water cannons at Filipino vessels during two separate humanitarian and support missions within Philippines’ EEZ.

TAGS: Christmas convoy, WPS

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