South China Sea: huge civilian Filipino flotilla heads to disputed shoal to ‘assert sovereign rights’

Philippines coast guard and navy watch as wooden boats head to Scarborough shoal to place buoys and hand food packs to local fishers

A flotilla of about 100 mostly small fishing boats led by Filipino activists has set sail for a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, where Beijing’s coast guard and suspected militia ships have used powerful water cannon to ward off what they regard as intruders.

The Philippine coast guard and navy deployed one patrol ship each to keep watch from a distance on the activists and fishers, who set off on wooden boats with bamboo outriggers on Wednesday to assert Manila’s sovereignty over the Scarborough shoal. Dozens of journalists joined the three-day voyage.

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