About 100 Filipino activists and fishermen sail on wooden boats to disputed shoal guarded by China


Manila: about 100 filipino worker And fishermenWith reporters, left for A on Wednesday disputed shoal In the South China Sea, where Beijing's coast guard and suspected militia vessels have used powerful water cannons to deter intruders.
The Philippine Coast Guard deployed three patrol vessels and a light aircraft to remotely monitor the activists and fishermen who set out from western Zambales province to assert Manila's sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal and outer waters. The Navy sent a ship to help keep an eye on the participants.
Emman Hizon said a fleet of about 100 small wooden fishing boats with bamboo outriggers initially joined the trip to help deliver food packs and fuel to the fishermen and about 20 off the coast before returning to Zambales. A dozen regional buoys were laid out nautical miles (37 kilometers) apart. , one of the organizers.
Four large wooden boats carrying more than 100 workers, including a Filipino and two foreign Roman Catholic priests, fishermen and journalists, headed toward the coast and were expected to reach outer waters Thursday morning, Hizon said.
The activists, who belong to a non-governmental coalition called Atin Ito – Tagalog for This Is Ours – said they would like to avoid confrontation but are prepared for any contingencies.
“Our mission is peaceful based on international law and aims to assert our sovereign rights,” said lead organizer Rafaela David. “We will move forward with determination rather than provocation to demilitarize the region and protect its territorial integrity.”
In December, David's group with boats full of fishermen also tried to visit another disputed coast, but they stopped the journey after being chased by a Chinese ship.
Following a tense 2012 standoff with Philippine government vessels, China effectively seized Scarborough Shoal, a triangle-shaped area with a vast fishing lagoon, by surrounding it with its coast guard ships.
Angered by China's actions, the Philippine government brought the disputes to international arbitration in 2013 and won a massive victory three years later with a tribunal in The Hague ruling that China's sweeping claims in the busy sea route were based on historical grounds. were invalid under the 1982 UN Convention. Law of the sea.
The ruling declared Scarborough Shoal a traditional fishing area for Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese fishermen. In the past, fishermen anchored off the coast during stormy weather to avoid huge waves in the high seas.
China refused to participate in the mediation, rejected the outcome and continues to disregard it.
Two weeks earlier, Chinese coast guard and suspected militia vessels fired water cannons at Philippine coast guard and fishing vessels patrolling the Scarborough Shoal, causing damage to both vessels.
The Philippines condemned the Chinese coast guard's actions on the shoal, which lies within the Southeast Asian nation's internationally recognized exclusive economic zone. The Chinese coast guard said it took “necessary measures” after the Philippine ships “violated China's sovereignty.”
Apart from the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have also been involved in territorial disputes.
Chinese coast guard ships have also entered waters close to Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia in the past, causing tensions and protests, but the Southeast Asian country, which has significant economic ties with China, has been aggressively countering Beijing's increasingly assertive actions. Have not been critical since.
The Philippines has released videos of its territorial confrontation with China and invited journalists to watch the hostilities on the high seas as a strategy to drum up international support, sparking a war of words with Beijing.
The increasing frequency of skirmishes between the Philippines and China has resulted in minor skirmishes in recent months, with Filipino navy personnel injured and supply boats damaged. That has raised fears that the territorial dispute could escalate into armed conflict between China and the United States, a longtime treaty ally of the Philippines.

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