The Mavulis Island, also known as Y’ami Island, an uninhabited islet of the Batanes province, is the cornerstone in the northern tip most boundary of the Philippines. This island was just an ordinary natural creation then, until its significance was realized.
Mavulis Island, which is 80 kilometers away from Taiwan, is highly strategic waterway that connects northern Philippines to northeast Asia, a favorite spot not only of Filipino fishermen but also foreign poachers. In fact, in the previous years, there were several encounters of Filipino fishermen with foreign fishing vessels within the area.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), in partnership with several law enforcement bodies, had conducted several monitoring activities in this Philippine sea which resulted to the confiscations of foreign fishing vessels and fishing paraphernalia.
This was the reason why the government, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), installed a flagpole in the highest peak of Mavulis mountain which now serves as the symbol of the country’s boundary in 2016.
On May 27 this year, a day before the observance of the National Flag Day, Nolcom officials, together with the officials of the LGU of Batanes, BFAR, Philippine Coastguard and fisherfolk group visited the island to raise again the Philippine flag and sing the National Anthem.
“This set our boundary. It signals warning to the foreign poachers our maritime property and that we don’t allow neither poaching nor illegal activities in our territory,” Major Ericson Bulosan, NOLCOM’s spokesperson, said.
The team also inaugurated and formally turned-over a multi-purpose shelter and fish drying facilities intended for the Filipino fishermen in the area.
“To optimize our maritime entitlements within our country’s sovereign territory and promote safety of life at sea, we built the Fishermen’s shelter through Bayanihan. Now, our fishermen can now stay in the area for how many days to catch fish as they already have a shelter,” Bulosan said.
Various government agencies and non-government organizations contributed towards the realization of the shelter project while soldiers and local fishermenjoin forces in the construction of the facility.
Lieutenant General Emmanuel Salamat, Nolcom commander, during the event said that “every island counts and the Nolcom’s intent to support the fishermen of Batanes of their livelihood fishing ventures”.
He also said that the facility and the flag raised in the island stand as a concrete feature to protect the interests of Filipino people.
“Their presence will discourage intruders and illegal poachers from encroaching on Philippine territory and exploiting our natural resources,” Salamat said.
The commander also said they continuously focus their efforts to further enhance interoperability and inter-agency cooperation, and stay true to their mandate to safeguard the interests of the nation and its people may they be on land, air or maritime areas.
“Our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the northern frontier will always be protected and maintained,” General Salamat added. (MDCT/OTB/PIA 2-Batanes)