In Zambales, ‘no-sail’ rule during ‘Balikatan’ hit

In Zambales, ‘no-sail’ rule during ‘Balikatan’ hit

In Zambales, ‘no-sail’ rule during ‘Balikatan’ hit

LIFE BY THE SEA Residents of Barangay San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales, spend their afternoon by the shore in this
photo taken on April 25. The coastal town will host some of the “Balikatan” military exercises between the Philippines and the United States, forcing the Philippine Coast Guard to enforce a “no-sail” zone from May 6 to May 9. JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT

ZAMBALES, Philippines — As the coastal town of San Antonio in Zambales province prepares to host some activities of the “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder) military exercises next week, residents were surprised to discover that a “no-sail zone” policy was again enforced during the war games between Filipino and American troops.

The maritime law enforcement team of the local police confirmed that the Philippine Coast Guard would implement the policy from May 6 to May 9.


While a no-sailing policy is enforced, vessels transiting the waters off San Antonio would not be allowed to sail.


READ: ‘Most expansive balikatan yet’ kicks off today

Balikatan organizers said an integrated air and missile defense would also be demonstrated by the participating soldiers during the war games in the town, according to the local police.

Hilda Reyes, 51, president of the fish vendors’ association in Barangay San Miguel, said the no-sail policy would have a “huge impact” on the livelihood of their 189 members, noting that each of them could lose a potential daily income between P1,500 and P2,000 due to the no-sail zone policy, which also bans fishing within the municipal waters.


“We appeal to authorities to give us financial or food assistance this time,” Reyes said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

A boat tour guide also expressed fear that the maritime training would scare off visitors, especially since it would happen during a peak tourist season.

The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday joined the workers-led protest in the US Embassy in Manila to reject the ongoing Balikatan military exercises in the country’s waters.


“Fishermen would not be fooled by the US narrative that its military presence is to protect our national sovereignty because it is engraved in history how the said powerful country has violated our national independence and self-determination,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya chair, said in a statement.

American troops and their war equipment, Hicap said, do not bring peace to Filipino fisherfolk “because this has even caused the sudden increase in Chinese ships in our ocean.”

Since Balikatan began on April 22, at least 120 Chinese ships have been spotted in different parts of the West Philippine Sea.

Last year’s edition of Balikatan temporarily displaced some 5,000 fisherfolk and their families in five coastal towns of Zambales after they were barred from sailing during the bilateral training from April 25 to April 27.

They said they had yet to receive the assistance that the Armed Forces of the Philippines had promised to give them at that time.

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Since this year’s war games are restricted to San Antonio’s municipal waters, about 1,195 fisherfolk, fish vendors and other tourism industry workers in the town are expected to be affected by the no-sailing policy. —WITH A REPORT FROM JACOB LAZARO

TAGS: Balikatan, financial assistance, food assistance, No Sail Zone, Zambales

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