By Priam Nepomuceno

NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The National Security Council (NSC) on Monday called on China to allow the civilian group ‘Atin Ito Coalition’ to carry out its “peace and solidarity regatta” to the Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea.

NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya made the call after reports said a huge number of Chinese Coast Guard ships and their maritime militia are now gathering at the convoy’s possible routes.

“(Ang) pakiusap na lang natin sa People’s Republic of China ay igalang nila ang paglalayag nitong mga barkong ito kasi they are civilian, they are not in anyway connected to the government. Civilian po itong mga ito and kilala ko ang mga ito, itong personalidad na ito sa bansa, they can check and recheck, they know na these are civilian vessels napupunta dyan sa Bajo De Masinloc (The only thing we are asking the People’s Republic of China is that they respect these ships are they are civilians and not in anyway connected to the government. The people aboard them are also civilians and well known personalities in the country. They can check and recheck, and they will know that these are only civilian ships heading towards Bajo De Masinloc),” Malaya said in a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing.

The “Atin Ito Coalition ” convoy is expected to sail from May 14 to 17 with its mission of deploying markers and buoys in the vital waterway aside from giving provisions and fuel to Filipino fisherfolk plying the area.

Two ships and around 100 bancas are expected to join the activity.

Meanwhile, Malaya said the decision to cancel the trip or voyage depends on the organizers of the event.

He said the convoy’s organizers have coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard for all possible contingencies.

He said it would “not look good” for China to interfere with the civilian mission.

“Sana igalang ng Tsina yung ganitong klaseng, ng nature nitong civilian mission na ito at sana wag naman nila gawin kung ano man yung pinaplano nila (I hope China respects this kind of civilian mission and they do not push through with what they are planning),” he added.

He urged Filipinos to pray for the success of this mission. (PNA)