The Philippines’ first and only industry magazine that deals with safety and security matters pervading the environment today.

Fisherfolk Urge Action as Chinese Navy Seen near Western Mindanao

Amidst the Alarming sighting of Chinese Navy ships off the coast of Western Mindanao, several fisherfolk organizations have urgently called for the Philippine government to take immediate and aggressive measures to enhance maritime security. These vessels, identified as two People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships passing through the Basilan Strait near the Zamboanga Peninsula on June 7, have triggered significant concerns among local communities and advocacy groups.

Roberto “Ka Dodoy” Ballon, leader of Katipunan ng mga Kilusang Artisanong Mangingisda sa Pilipinas, expressed apprehension over the situation, emphasizing the potential threats amid the tense backdrop in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). “They might not be that aggressive now here, but we don’t know what will happen next given the tense situation in the WPS,” Ballon remarked in a statement on Sunday.

Earlier incidents reported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command in May confirmed the “innocent passage” of four PLAN vessels through the Sibutu Passage off Tawi-Tawi. This activity has exacerbated anxieties about foreign naval presence in Philippine territorial waters.

“It’s just so unfair that while Chinese warships freely navigate the waters in Mindanao, we are thrown out in our waters in the West Philippine Sea,” Ballon lamented, highlighting what he perceives as a double standard in international maritime practices.

Edicio “Ed” Dela Torre, president of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, echoed similar sentiments, criticizing China’s actions as reflective of a double standard under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. “China’s navigation in Philippine waters speaks of a double standard because they enjoy the rule of innocent passage while harassing Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea,” Dela Torre emphasized.

Rapidly responding to these developments, the Philippine Coast Guard has taken proactive measures by deploying maritime security groups in critical regions, including the Western Visayas. This strategic move is part of the government’s efforts to strengthen maritime security in Philippine domestic waters and protect local fisherfolk and maritime interests amidst the ongoing regional tensions.

As the situation unfolds, stakeholders continue to monitor the government’s response to ensure the protection of Philippine sovereignty and the rights of Filipino fisherfolk. The issue remains a focal point in regional security and international maritime law discussions.