‘Atin Ito’ victorious despite overkill Chinese vessels’ presence

THE Philippine Coast Guard on Friday described as “overkill” China’s deployment of several China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia vessels in the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) during the civilian mission “Atin Ito.”

PCG spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said China was “paranoid” considering its large deployment and security layers of vessels in Panatag Shoal over a mere civilian mission.

“Kakaiba ‘yung ginawa nila. There were 10 CCG vessels. Ibang layer of security ang ginawa nila na malapit sa Shoal. Another layer na 30 nautical miles. And then, another layer na from 40 to 45 NM,” Tarriela said.

He said that aside from the 10 CCG vessels, they monitored 10 maritime militia ships and a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessel near Panatag Shoal.

Tarriela said the figures were considered the highest observed by PCG since their monitoring began in Panatag Shoal.

“Before ang highest number lang na na-monitor natin dito is sometimes 5, sometimes 6… kung wala namang [operation] ang nare-report lang ng ating Coast Guard dito ay basically 4,” he added.

Meanwhile, Atin To claimed “victory” in its civilian mission to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) after the boats carrying the participants safely returned to the Subic fish port in Zambales.

“Generally peaceful and victorious despite China’s unlawful presence in the area, accompanied by its vessels’ acts of harassment and intimidation, and its massive and illegal blocking force in Panatag Shoal,” said Emman Hizon, one of the organizers.

The advance team of the civilian mission was able to break through the blockade of Chinese vessels and reached Panatag Shoal on Wednesday.

However, the main convoy no longer proceeded to Panatag Shoal because Chinese ships already drove away the fishermen who were supposed to receive another round of supplies there.

“Our boat captains got report na wala na raw mga Pinoy na mangingisda sa Bajo de Masinloc ngayon kasi pinapaalis sila ng mga Chinese Coast Guard, militia, at iba pang mga marine vessels,” Hizon said

“So there is no point of going near, yung main convoy, because it is no longer there,” he added.

Around 200 volunteers and 100 fishermen aboard five wooden bancas and 100 smaller boats set sail to Panatag Shoal on Wednesday to deliver 1,000 liters of fuel and 200 food packs to Filipino fishers working in the area.