The Philippines Announce PCG/BFAR Rotational Deployment to Scarborough Shoal

Rotational Deployment Announcement

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) announced that they will begin to regularly rotate deployments at Scarborough Shoal this month. The rotational deployment is part of its efforts to safeguard Philippine fishermen and the country’s food security, according to a statement by the country’s National Security Adviser (NSA), Eduardo Año.

The rotational deployment comes after a PCG vessel, the BRP Teresa Magbanua, completed a nine-day patrol at the shoal while a BFAR patrol ship, the BRP Tamblot, began its patrol on February 14th.

The vessels deployed to the site will be used to ensure the safety and security of the fishermen while they are on their voyages. Furthermore, the vessels will also distribute food packs, groceries, and fuel to the fisherfolk while they are fishing at the feature. The advisor also denied news articles that the China Coast Guard “expelled a BFAR vessel and PCG vessel that allegedly intruded into their waters.”

Año also said that the National Security Council (NSC) “reaffirms the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Bajo de Masinloc [Scarborough Shoal] and its surrounding waters within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone. He further said that the BFAR and PCG vessels will maintain their professionalism when interacting with the CCG and CCM vessel’s “unlawful and provocative behavior.”

Analysis

The Philippines instituted the rotational deployment to prevent another January 12th incident and to provide aid and safety to the Philippine fishermen that fish at the shoal. However, the gap likely occurred between the PCG and the BFAR deployments because the Philippines was still figuring out details regarding the deployment. One key detail would be how the two agencies could equally divide up the rotations to prevent either side from becoming too overstretched, especially the BFAR. Another detail that would have needed to be discussed was the operating procedures regarding how to interact with CCG, CCM, and other vessels at the shoal.

Specifically, the procedures would likely include contingencies ranging from how the PCG or BFAR were to react to Chinese vessels ramming or spraying a water cannon at the vessels. Another possible contingency would be how the vessels would react if the CCG were to harass Philippine fishermen in a similar matter as the January 12th incident. The NSC’s statement saying that the BFAR and PCG will conduct professional interactions indicates that it will continue its strategy of publicly disclosing China’s aggressive actions.

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Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.
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