Home / Philippine News / Christmas convoy departs for West Philippine Sea

Christmas convoy departs for West Philippine Sea

“In a profound display of solidarity and patriotism, over 40 volunteers, comprising youth and student leaders, along with fisherfolk representatives, embarked on a “Christmas Convoy Civilian Supply Mission” to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) from Manila on Friday morning,” said the ATIN ITO Coalition in a statement.

The volunteers were aboard a 150-capacity civilian marine vessel carrying donations and supplies.

Upon arrival in El Nido, the volunteers will join a larger contingent of 100 fishers, the group said.

The convoy with 40 boats will then set sail for the general vicinity of Ayungin Shoal, Patag, and Lawak islands from Dec. 10 to 12 to distribute the donations and supplies.

Initially, ATIN ITO had proposed  bringing goods to BRP Sierra Madre inside Ayungin Shoal.

But, the National Security Council (NSC) only allowed in the vicinity waters of Ayungin Shoal due to security concerns.

National Task Force WPS (NTF-WPS) spokesperson, and NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya, meanwhile, confirmed that the task force was informed about the departure of the Christmas convoy.

Among the member organizations of ATIN ITO are the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), Center for Agrarian Reform for Empowerment and Transformation (CARET), Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK), Team Manila Lifestyle, Akbayan Youth, and the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP).

“As we sail forth, let our collective commitment echo in the waves: the spirit of Christmas is not confined to festivities but resonates in our shared duty to improve the living and working conditions of our fisherfolk and frontliners in the West Philippine Sea,” said Akbayan Party president Rafaela David.

“It embodies our nation’s resilience and our peaceful but determined defense of our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Our voyage is a testament to the enduring strength of Filipino unity, even in the face of foreign aggression and intrusion within our beloved West Philippine Sea,” he added.

Also on Friday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it has already informed China that a Chinese-flagged bulk carrier vessel hit a Filipino boat in the waters near Paluan, Occidental Mindoro.

Interviewed on GMA 7’s DZBB Dobol B TV, PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said their agency’s maritime safety officer has written a letter to Beijing about the accident.

“Yesterday, we informed the concerned flag state and our maritime safety office wrote a letter to the flag state of China because it has an obligation to investigate these kinds of reports,” Balilo said.

“If there is enough evidence and severity in the incident, China should hold the crew accountable,” he added.

Based on the protocols, Balilo said, the Philippines has to inform China about the incident and the latter will be the one to conduct an investigation.

The PCG said the collision between Filipino boat FBCA Ruel J and Chinese-flagged vessel MV TAI HANG 8 happened at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Five Filipino fishermen identified as Junrey Sardan, Ryan Jay Daus, Bryan Pangatungam, Cristian Arizala, and Joshua Barbas were rescued.

“Per accounts from the survivors, the boat was lying in Paluan waters attached to a ‘payao’ (a type of fish aggregating device used in the Philippines),” the PCG said.

“The ill-fated fishing banca Ruel J and its crew, allegedly reportedly hit by MV TAI HANG 8, and was said to be left adrift as the foreign vessel continued its voyage unknowingly,” it added.

Earlier, the owner of the distressed boat appealed for help from the management of the foreign ship, saying the tragic incident hurt their livelihood.

“I just hope they will take accountability and pay for the damage. A lot of families rely on that boat for livelihood,” said Jaziel Salinas in Chino Gaston’s report on “24 Oras” on Thursday.

“We are appealing for the ship owner to be fair and claim responsibility for the incident. Do not just leave us behind,” Salinas added.

The Coast Guard and the local government distributed aid to the affected fishermen. — Vince Lopez

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Credit belongs to: www.manilastandard.net

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