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PH boat convoy won't proceed to Scarborough Shoal – organizers

MANILA, Philippines – A convoy of boats carrying Philippine civilians bearing fuel and food for Filipino fishermen has abandoned plans to sail closer to a China-held reef off the Southeast Asian country, organizers said Thursday.

«Atin Ito will now proceed to conduct the final leg of supply distribution in the current area, as there are no more Filipino fishers in BdM after they were reportedly sent away by various Chinese vessels,» the non-government coalition's spokesman told reporters, using the acronym for the reef known to Filipinos as Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal).

The Philippine Coast Guard said the convoy of four vessels was about 108 kilometers (67.2 miles) southeast of the disputed shoal in the South China Sea at 6:00 a.m. (2200 GMT Wednesday) and was being tracked by a nearby China Coast Guard vessel.

Philippine fishermen, along with volunteers from a civilian-led mission 'Atin Ito (It’s Ours)' Coalition, arrive at a meeting point as seen from the bow of Philippine Coast Guard ship BRP Bagacay, in South China Sea on May 15, 2024. Civilians on board Philippine fishing boats sailed on May 15 towards a China-controlled reef off the Southeast Asian country to distribute provisions to Filipino fishermen and assert their rights to the disputed waterway. AFP PHOTOS

A People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy warship, eight China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels and 34 Chinese maritime militia (CMM) ships moved into a blockade position in Bajo de Masinloc to intercept the convoy Wednesday evening.

Based on the monitoring by Sealight, a maritime transparency project that monitors and reports activities in the South China Sea, the 44-meter Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) patrol ship BRP Bacagay is escorting the civilian Atin Ito! convoy as China moved the rest of its blockade into position.

As of 10 p.m., the PCG ship was being closely shadowed by the 102-meter CCG 4203.


Meanwhile, retired United States Air Force Col. Ray Powell, director of SeaLight, said the Philippine Navy patrol ship BRP Ramon Alcarez was nearby monitoring the situation.

Earlier on Wednesday, Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesman for the West Philippine Sea, said during the Maritime