By Genalyn Kabiling
More coast guard patrols should be deployed to the West Philippine Sea to enhance maritime security, Malacañang declared recently in the wake of the ramming of a Filipino boat by a Chinese vessel.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has pushed for increased border patrols by the Philippine Coast Guard while appealing to local fishermen to remain vigilant and report any untoward incident to authorities.
“We should be having more coast guards there,” Panelo said in a recent television interview when asked about government’s next steps to protect fishermen in the country’s territorial waters.
Panelo noted the country has vast coastlines but there were apparently only four Coast Guard boats patrolling the borders. “We can always find resources if we want to,” he said when asked if the government has enough resources to conduct naval patrols.
The border patrols could also curb any poaching of marine resources in the country’s territorial waters, according to Panelo. “Because the problem is if you have only a few coast guards when they are away, then something happens, when they get back nobody is there,” he said.
Meantime, Panelo has urged local fishermen to exercise vigilance while on fishing expedition.
“Maging maingat sila sa kanilang ginagawang pangingisda sa lugar na iyon at ipaalam kaagad sa atin kung anuman ang unusual na nakikita nila na maaring magkaroon ng kalakaran kung saan ang kanilang kaligtasan ay malalagay sa alanganin [They should be careful when fishing there and report any unusual activity that will put their lives at risk],” he said.
The government earlier denounced the actions of a Chinese ship that rammed a Filipino vessel and abandoned the distressed fishermen at sea last week. The act of abandonment of fishermen in need of help was barbaric, outrageous and inhuman, according to the Palace.
The 22 fishermen aboard the wrecked vessel were eventually rescued by a passing Vietnamese ship.
China, however, denied allegations that a Chinese vessel abandoned the 22 fishermen after it hit their boat in the South China Sea. The embassy of China in Manila claimed the crew tried to rescue the fishermen but left after supposedly being besieged by seven or eight Filipino fishing boats.
The Palace earlier warned that the country could cut ties with China if the ramming of the Filipino boat would be proven an intentional aggressive act.