A PCG personnel hands a bag of rice and canned sardines to a fisherman in Pag-asa Island.

[UPDATED] The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has confirmed that more Filipino fisherman have now been frequenting the fishing grounds around Pag-asa Island.

According to the PCG, roughly 25 Filipino fishing boats were sighted fishing in the waters surrounding the island during the deployment of the largest PCG unit in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) from May 12 to 14.

The PCG assessed their situation and offered relief goods as well as COVID-19 kits to let them continue fishing.

The considerable increase in Filipino fishermen in the WPS, said PCG commander Admiral Artemio Abu in the statement, is proof that their increased presence builds their confidence and makes them feel safe and protected when fishing in these areas’ waters.

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“Through our continuous modernization, we ensure that our kababayans can freely explore our marine resources while protecting our marine environment for the future generations,” Abu said.

Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, chairman of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) and national security adviser, highlighted the significance of encouraging Filipino fishermen to continue fishing in the WPS.

He also mentioned that the national government is working to help Filipino fisherman in the area by building a fuel depot and an ice storage plant on Pag-asa Island.

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Sec. Art Tugade directed the PCG to guarantee that Filipino fishermen may enjoy the rich marine resources and be safe to come home to their families.

“The PCG will always be in line with the direction of the national government to protect the country’s sovereign rights and safeguard every Filipino at sea,” Abu said.

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