PCG: Navy can have ‘limited’ participation in installing sovereign markers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Tuesday it would welcome assistance from the Philippine Navy when it comes to installing sovereign markers, but this should not be in areas where there are tensions with other countries.

“The Navy could take part with this activity perhaps in other areas that are not contested,” PCG Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Coyme told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

On May 14, the PCG said it has installed five more navigational buoys in “critical areas” in the West Philippine Sea following aggressive actions by China in waters within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). 

The new markers in Patag Island, Kota Island, Panata Islands, fishing ground in Balagtas, and Juan Felipe Reef are on top of the other five others near Likas Island, Parola Island, Lawak Island, and Pag-asa Island.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the Philippine Navy can assist the PCG in the installation of more buoys in other parts of the West Philippine Sea "from the northern part of the country in the Ilocos region to the south in the Palawan area, because that is the extent of Philippine territorial waters China is claiming."

“In my opinion, especially in disputed areas, if it is disputed and contested it's quite difficult to expose our gray ship or our Philippine Navy because it could be construed as assertiveness or somehow increasing the tension,” Coyme explained.

Aside from being sovereign markers, the buoys were put up for safety for boats and ships during day and night navigation, Coyme said.

He also said this can help in establishing “strong presence, administrations, and control over these areas,” as well as protect fishermen when they encounter problems while fishing.

Coyme said these buoys will only be destroyed if deliberately done. Teams have been deployed to monitor the markers, he noted.

He said more buoys will be installed, but did not specifically mention where.