UCA News

Filipino coalition reaches aid to fishers in South China Sea

A second attempt by 'Atin Ito' to supply food and fuel in the Scarborough Shoal was prevented by Chinese warships
Members of a civilian mission to the Scarborough Shoal in the disputed South China Sea show the buoys during a press conference in Manila on May 8.

Members of a civilian mission to the Scarborough Shoal show buoys installed by them as symbols of Manila's claim of maritime areas in the disputed South China Sea, during a press conference in Manila on May 8. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 16, 2024 11:51 AM GMT
Updated: May 17, 2024 04:30 AM GMT

A coalition comprising fishermen and their allies has successfully distributed food and fuel to Filipino fishers in the Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground secured by Chinese troops in the disputed South China Sea.

On May 15, the team under the Atin Ito (This Is Ours) coalition sailed up to 35 miles near the disputed shoal to distribute essential items to fishermen.

"We managed to breach their [China’s] illegal blockade to support our fishers," Rafaela David, head of the coalition, told reporters on May 16.

"This shows resourcefulness and bravery," David noted.

The team has installed buoys with symbolic marks “WPS Atin Ito,” media reports said.

WPS is an acronym for the West Philippine Sea and refers to Manila's claim of maritime areas immediately west of the Philippines.

However, the 10-member team “was chased away by the Chinese” when they tried to distribute food for a second time.

At least 43 Chinese ships, including a warship, were pressed into service to cast away the coalition.

However, the team declared “mission accomplished” despite a failed attempt.

China has warned the Philippines over extending aid to fishermen in the disputed sea.

“Relevant responsibilities and consequences shall be borne solely by the Philippines,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wengbin on May 15.

According to Wengbin, the Scarborough Shoal “has always been China’s territory.”

“China made a goodwill arrangement in 2016 for Filipino fishermen to fish with a small number of small fishing boats in the adjacent waters of the Huangyan Dao [Scarborough Shoal],” the official noted.

The Philippines has claimed the ring-shaped coral reef with several rocks encircling a lagoon, covering an area of 150 square kilometers, as “an integral part of the Philippine territory.”

“It is part of the municipality of Masinloc in Zambales Province. It is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and is within the 200 nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” the government wrote in the gazette in April 2012.

On July 12, 2016, a tribunal adjudicated the case and ruled overwhelmingly in favor of the Philippines.

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