Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Encourages Safety Precautions for Christmas Convoy to West Philippine Sea
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has issued a warning to civilians planning to participate in a Christmas convoy to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) next month. In light of potential threats from Chinese maritime vessels, the PCG is urging participants to prepare for bad weather, ensure the seaworthiness of their boats, and remain vigilant during the journey.
Commodore Jay Tarriela, spokesperson for National Task Force for West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), stated that the PCG will deploy its own ships to escort members of the Atin Ito! Coalition who intend to go to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal. The purpose of the convoy is to bring gifts to troops manning BRP Sierra Madre, the lone outpost by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the area, which has been a flashpoint for maritime tensions between the Philippines and China.
The convoy is scheduled to depart on December 5 from El Nido, Palawan using 40 boats, depending on the weather and the type of boats that will be used, the trip could take approximately 18 to 24 hours.
Tarriela stressed the importance of obtaining travel permits from the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to ensure that the vessels are safe for travel. He also emphasized the need for experienced masters to lead the vessels, as well as the potential dangers of using fishing boats not equipped for long voyages and severe weather conditions in the WPS.
The PCG has reached out to the organizers of Atin Ito to discuss the details of the escort needed for the Christmas convoy, emphasizing the importance of maritime safety and ensuring the safety of participants. However, Tarriela urged organizers to consider bringing gifts to the nearest AFP or PCG units to avoid putting themselves in danger.
Nonetheless, the PCG expressed appreciation for the efforts of civil society groups wanting to express gratitude to the military and coast guard in safeguarding the country’s territorial waters. Nonetheless, the PCG expressed appreciation for the efforts of civil society groups wanting to express gratitude to the military and coast guard in safeguarding the country’s territorial waters.