One of the five buoys the PCG installed in the WPS. (Photo from PCG)

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has installed five 30-foot-long navigational buoys with Philippine flags in four crucial locations of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as both sail safety aids and a symbol of coastal state authority.

The buoys placed in the waters surrounding Lawak Island, Likas Island, Parola Island, and Pag-asa Island were among the 10 floating markers purchased in Spain and delivered to Cebu on May 7.

The PCG said Wednesday that the buoys are outfitted with modern marine aids to navigation lamps and specific anchoring mechanisms. They also have a satellite-based remote monitoring system that transmits data to the PCG National Headquarters in Port Area, Manila.

“These buoys are now our source of pride and honor in serving our great nation. And because our fellow Coast Guardians braved numerous dangers during the said noble mission, they were able to bring the PCG to the next level of success,” PCG commandant Adm. Artemio Abu said in a statement.

He said this on May 18 in a speech to welcome the return of the five vessels — BRP Corregidor (AE-891), BRP Bojeador (AE-46), BRP Suluan (MRRV-4406), BRP Capones (MRRV-4407), and Tug Boat Habagat (TB-271) — that laid them in the WPS from May 12-14, 2022.

Abu said these ocean markers also indicate that the waters in question constitute special protected zones. Therefore, mining and oil exploration are restricted to protect the area’s abundant natural resources.

“I know it was not an easy task, but the support of Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan headed by CG Rear Admiral Joseph Coyme, Coast Guard Fleet Commander, CG Rear Admiral Charlie Rances, and PCG District Palawan Commander, CG Commodore Rommel Supangan as Ground Commander led to the resounding success of installing our sovereign markers that are now flashing lights at night to guide sailors as they traverse the treacherous waters of the WPS,” Abu added.

Fishing boats from other nations observed
Abu, who also visited the WPS on May 14 to visit Pag-asa Island to inspect the buoy-laying activities and assess the morale of PCG members stationed in the region, also reported seeing Vietnamese and Chinese fishing vessels in the area.

“During my visit to Pag-asa Island, I saw five PCG ships anchored in the vicinity with several Filipino fishing bancas. Several Vietnamese fishing boats, Chinese fishing vessels, and China Coast Guard vessels were not so far from their position, specifically at the vicinity waters off Subi Reef,” he said.

“Ang guidance ko sa kanila, tayo ang mang-challenge sa kanila. Pero ayon sa Coast Guard Fleet, mapayapa ang WPS at nagpakita ng respeto ang mga barko ng Vietnam at China sa isinagawa nating misyon,” he added.

He stated that further navigational buoys will be placed in various areas of the nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), particularly in the WPS and Benham Rise.