The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) deployed five new navigation buoys in the West Philippine Sea to demonstrate the country’s control over the region.

Strategically located in the waters surrounding Patag Island, Balagtas Reef, Kota Island, Panata Island, and Julian Felipe Reef, the buoys, known as “sovereign markers,” were adorned with the Philippine flag.

Vice Admiral Joseph Coyme, commander of the PCG’s Maritime Safety Services (MSS), revealed that the mission took a week to complete, using five vessels, one of which belonged to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

He said the deployment of the buoys began in 2021 under the leadership of PCG commandant Adm. Artemio Abu, who proposed the establishment of Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan to support the enforcement activities of the PCG, UNCLOS rules and regulations, and PCG circulars related to maritime safety.

While Abu intended for the task force to continue, Coyme said they suggested transforming it into Task Force Kaligtasan and Soberanya (KalSo) to boost their operational efficiency in managing lighthouses and navigation aids across the country.

“Nagpropose siya ng Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan kasi noong panahon na yon ay kailangan nating palakasin ang enforcement activities ng PCG, yong mga rules and regulations sa UNCLOS, and PCG circular pertaining to maritime safety,” Coyme said.

Coyme stressed the significance of supporting the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF WPS) by focusing on the management of outlying islands and islets.

Moreover, the PCG had installed 10 buoys and set up working lighthouses in the Batanes area last year.

The buoys’ installation aims to establish a strong presence and exert administration and control over claimed features, particularly within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It also seeks to ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen, especially within known fishing grounds.

“Itong mga boya, it would serve the safety for boats and ships navigating within the area, and pangalawa, they serve as sovereign markers dahil kung titingnan mo ang ating boya, may marka ng Philippine flag,” he said.

“And third, yong strong presence natin, administration and control over those claimed features natin, especially yong areas within our exclusive economic zone (EEZ),” said Coyme.

The buoys not only serve as safety markers for boats and ships navigating the area but also offer shelter during inclement weather.

The buoys are in the WPS, Coyme said, to secure too the safety of Filipino fishermen in known fishing grounds in the EEZ.

“Lalo na kapag masama ang panahon, they can seek shelter there,” he said.

He said, not only Filipinos will benefit from the buoys but also other vessels journeying at sea as they will be included in the notice to mariners (NOTAM) chart.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.