'Atin Ito’ eyeing gift-giving caravan in Scarborough Shoal anew
EXCLUSIVE

‘Atin Ito’ eyeing gift-giving caravan in Scarborough Shoal anew

/ 07:46 PM March 05, 2024

Scarborough Shoial Bajo de Masinloc in WPS

The side of the Scarborough Shoal as seen using a drone. Mother boats are anchored at the deeper part of the shoal while small boats can go across the coral reefs to catch fish inside. (PHOTO BY REM ZAMORA)

MANILA, Philippines — The group which previously led a Christmas gift-giving caravan in West Philippine Sea (WPS) military outposts is planning to conduct another similar mission for fishermen and personnel in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal next month.

Rafaela David, lead convenor of the “Atin Ito” coalition, revealed this to INQUIRER.net on the sidelines of an event in a hotel in Manila on Tuesday.

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“We want to [put into] center the issues of the fisherfolk affected there,” David said in a chance interview.

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Previously, the Philippine Coast Guard expressed willingness to escort another civilian-led mission in the West Philippine Sea.

Last year, the first-ever Christmas mission of Atin Ito proved to be a success as one of their resupply boat managed to get past Chinese vessels and reach their destination in Dec. 11, bringing gifts to civilians and non-military personnel at maritime features located at the western section of the country’s exclusive economic zone.

READ: China fails to foil Filipinos’ gift-giving mission in West PH Sea

However, this feat was not without challenges as China Coast Guard vessel shadowed the caravan’s mothership TS Kapitan Felix Oca, which prompted its captain to return to Palawan port on Dec. 10. The mothership was carrying civilians and media personnel.

READ: Civilian ship, chased by China vessel, returns to Palawan

INQUIRER.net and other Filipino journalists aboard mothership’s escort BRP Melchora Aquino also witnessed the incident. Sources in the vessel said PCG personnel convinced the captain to continue its course, but he still decided to return.

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Notwithstanding this, MV Chowee, a smaller boat which participated in the caravan, managed to reach Lawak Island, dropping off their gifts there which had been distributed to other maritime features.

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David, in a previous interview with INQUIRER.net, said they will apply all lessons from their first mission.

“We saw the tactics of China, we will make sure next time that we are prepared against their maneuvers,” David had said in an interview at El Nido town in Palawan after the Christmas convoy.

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TAGS: Scarborough Shoal, West Philippine Sea

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