Metro Manila, Philippines — More than 40 volunteers departed Manila for Palawan Friday morning for their planned three-day Christmas convoy to the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Civilian group Atin Ito said the first batch of volunteers includes youth and student leaders, and fisherfolk representatives.
“Loaded with essential donations and supplies, the group set sail for El Nido, Palawan, aboard a 150-capacity civilian marine vessel,” it said in a statement
Based on the photos forwarded to the media on Friday, a sculpture of a saint was seen as one of the things being carried on the ship.
In El Nido, the group will be joined by 100 fishers, with 40 boats participating in the civilian convoy.
The convoy, which aims to deliver Christmas gifts and supplies to Filipino troops assigned in the contested waters, will sail in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal, Patag, and Lawak islands from Dec. 10 to 12.
“As we sail forth, let our collective commitment echo in the waves: the spirit of Christmas is not confined to festivities but resonates in our shared duty to improve the living and working conditions of our fisherfolks and frontliners in the West Philippine Sea. It embodies our nation’s resilience and our peaceful but determined defense of our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Akbayan Party President Rafaela David, a convenor of Atin Ito
“Our voyage is a testament to the enduring strength of Filipino unity, even in the face of foreign aggression and intrusion within our beloved West Philippine Sea,” David added.
The itinerary of the Atin Ito Christmas convoy includes a briefing for the media and a send off dinner on Dec. 9.
On Dec. 10, they will sail from San Fernando Port in El Nido en route to Ayungin Shoal on board the civilian boat TS Kapital Felix Oca and the coast guard vessel BRP Melchora Aquino.
They are expected to arrive in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal In the early morning of Dec. 11, then travel on to Lawak Island and Patag Island. They will sail back to San Fernando Port from Patag Island in the afternoon of the same day.
On their last day, Dec. 12, they are expected to arrive in the afternoon at San Fernando Port, where there would be a debriefing for the media and delegates. After diinner, they would travel back to their homes.
Late in November, the National Security Council approved Atin Ito’s plan to sail in the West Philippine Sea. It earlier rejected the proposal amid China’s aggression.