MANILA, Philippines: The Philippine government accused a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel of using water cannon in an attempt to prevent a Philippine vessel from conducting another rotation and resupply (RoRe) mission to Filipino military personnel stationed on board BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on Friday.
According to the National Task Force for the WPS, CCG vessel 5203 “deployed a water cannon against Philippine supply vessel M/L Kalayaan in an illegal though unsuccessful attempt to force the latter to alter course.”
Three Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels–BRP Sindangan, BRP Melchora Aquino and BRP Cabra–that were escorting the supply vessel also encountered continuous harassment from CCG and China maritime militia ships that blockaded the entrance of Ayungin Shoal.
Monitoring through the automatic information system (AIS) showed the dangerous blocking maneuvers conducted by the Chinese vessels on the Philippine ships.
The CCG, however, claimed it “lawfully” monitored the Philippine vessels and
implemented “control measures.”
A CCG spokesman said in a statement that two small transport ships and three PCG vessels “trespassed into the adjacent waters of Ren’ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal) in China’s Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands) without the permission of the Chinese government.
“The China Coast Guard tracked and monitored the ships, took regulatory measures, and made temporary special arrangements for the Philippines to deliver food and other daily necessities,” the CCG spokesman said.
He further stressed that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, including Ayungin Shoal and its adjacent waters.
“The Philippines’ act infringes upon China’s territorial sovereignty, violates the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and breaks its own promise. We urge the Philippine side to stop its infringement behavior immediately,” the CCG spokesman said.
He added that the CCG “will continue to carry out law enforcement activities in the waters under China’s jurisdiction in accordance with the law, and resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.”