(Updated 5 p.m. July 26) A long boom with what are believed to be Chinese markings was found floating near disputed waters off Zambales, authorities said.
The boom, measuring about 1 kilometer, was spotted around 3 p.m. Friday some 3 nautical miles (5.5 kilometers) west of Iba town, Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Marfil, head of the Coast Guard Station Subic, said.
Fishermen who saw the boom informed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources which, in turn, reported to the nearest Coast Guard sub-station in Masinloc town, Marfil said.
The Masinloc Sub-Station asked fishermen to check, then at around 6 p.m., nine fishing bancas towed the boom towards Brgy. Sto. Rosario, Iba, Marfil said in an emailed report.
“Based on the statement of the fishermen, the floating object posed a hazard to navigation and was close to [a group of] corals,” he said.
Pictures obtained from Coast Guard Station Subic show that boom has a metal pipe connected by large orange floaters, and has what appear to be Chinese markings.
The pipe has a diameter of 1.5 meters while each floater has a diameter of 2 meters, according to Marfil’s report.
“Para siyang spill boom, parang pangharang ang porma… ‘Yung plastic na pangharang niya, orange. May Chinese na nakasulat,” a personnel at CGS-Subic said, when interviewed Saturday.
Authorities are still trying to determine where the boom came from, who brought it near Zambales, and why.
DND ‘disturbed’The Department of National Defense, for its part, said it was “disturbed” over the boom’s discovery.
“This is a disturbing development, given that the booms were supposedly found well within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” DND spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said.
Iba is only one town away from Masinloc, the municipality which treats Panatag Shoal as part of its territory despite China’s occupation of the rocky outcrop.
“Hinihintay pa namin ang report kung saan galing itong floating object na ito,” Seaman 2nd Rio Omar, of CGS-Subic, said when asked if the boom could have come from Panatag.
China is presently occupying the shoal, which it calls “Huangyan Island,” and has been preventing the entry of Filipino fishermen with its law enforcement ships.
The occupation came after the 2012 standoff with the Philippine Navy, which tried to arrest Chinese poachers at the shoal, which Masinloc has been calling Bajo de Masinloc since the Spanish colonial period. (John Roson)
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