Government to procure more patrol vessels for Filipino fisherfolk in West Philippine Sea
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) announced on Monday its plans to acquire additional patrol vessels to enhance its presence and support Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
According to BFAR spokesperson Nazario Briguera, the government has allocated around P2.5 billion for the purchase of new monitoring, control, and surveillance vessels. Briguera revealed this information during an interview with state-run People’s Television (PTV).
Briguera emphasized that the procurement of these vessels is aimed at extending assistance to Filipino fisherfolk and demonstrating the government’s presence in the West Philippine Sea.
Commodore Jay Tarriela, the spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for WPS matters, also mentioned in a separate interview that the PCG is in discussions with BFAR to ensure the complementary deployment of their vessels in the WPS.
The PCG recently reported the presence of eight Chinese vessels during a patrol earlier this month in Bajo de Masinloc, a rich fishing ground in the West Philippines. This has raised tensions in the area and prompted the deployment of the PCG patrol boat BRP Sierra Madre to monitor the situation.
The Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) has been accused of engaging in dangerous and obstructive tactics to shadow the patrols of Filipino vessels.
In response to this, the BFAR has deployed BRP Teresa Magbanua in early February to deliver provisions to Filipino fishers and ensure their safety in the region.
Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, has long been a traditional fishing ground for generations of Filipino fishers. Beijing took control of the shoal in 2012 and has since deployed its vessels to patrol the area.
The acquisition of new patrol vessels by the BFAR is seen as a proactive step to provide support and protection to Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea.