Volunteers from the ‘Atin Ito’ Coalition and allied organizations. (Photo by Akbayan Party/via Facebook)


The flotilla of boats carrying fuel, food, and other essential supplies for Filipino fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc is now wrapping up their “solidarity regatta” mission after its advance team made it to at least within 25-30 nautical miles (NM) of the reef.

Organizers from the ‘Atin Ito’ Coalition reported on Thursday that although their second civilian supply mission did not sail smoothly as they expected, there were things that went according to plan. The advance team was able to slip past the China blockade situated at 40 NM of Bajo de Masinloc.

The non-government organization, which was trying to assert Philippine sovereign rights over the area, said they spotted a Chinese Navy vessel numbered 175. This shadowed the ‘Atin Ito’ advance team, which arrived at the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc on Wednesday morning, May 15

Chinese Navy vessel 175 shadows the ‘Atin Ito’ advance team upon its arrival at the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc on Wednesday morning, May 15. The team breached China’s massive blockade and immediately distributed supplies, such as fuel and food packs, to Filipino fishers working the area. (Photo by: Atin Ito Coalition)

Volunteers from the unarmed civilian vessel immediately distributed supplies, such as fuel and food packs, to Filipino fishermen working in the area, according to the group. By 8:00 AM on Thursday, the advance team arrived at the Subic Fish Port in Olongapo City after completing their mission.

The other vessels that are part of the main ‘Atin Ito’ convoy are now making their way back to mainland Zambales, according to reports. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) continues to escort them to ensure the safety of civilians and volunteers onboard.

An Agence France Presse (AFP) report quoting PCG officials said four of the vessels were located about 108 kilometers (67.2 miles) southeast of Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough/Panatag Shoal, at 6:00 AM on Wednesday and were being tracked by a nearby China Coast Guard ship.

“We managed to breach their (China’s) illegal blockade, reaching Bajo de Masinloc to support our fishers with essential supplies. Mission accomplished!” said Akbayan president and ‘Atin Ito’ co-convenor Rafaela David in a statement.

David attributed the success of their mission to the “ingenuity, resourcefulness and bravery of the Filipino spirit” amid formidable challenges. She described it in colloquial parlance as “diskarteng Pinoy,” which loosely translates to ‘strategic grit’ in English.

“China may possess larger and more vessels, and wield strong water cannons, but we possess a secret weapon: our ‘diskarteng Pinoy,’ which, when coupled with determination and love for fellow citizens and country, can surmount even the most daunting adversity,” David said.

International observers viewed Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal as a potential flashpoint in the longstanding maritime conflict in the West Philippine Sea since Beijing seized it from Manila in 2012.

The fish-rich reef is about 240 kilometers west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon and nearly 900 kilometers from Hainan, the nearest major Chinese land mass.