The Philippines will not be deterred in its resupply efforts in the West Philippine Sea despite the collision incidents with China, National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo M. Año said Sunday.
Earlier, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel collided with an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-contracted boat going to the Ayungin Shoal for a resupply mission this morning.
The incident occurred at around 6:04 a.m., when the “dangerous blocking maneuvers” of China Coast Guard vessel 5203 (CCGV 5203) resulted in its collision with indigenous resupply boat Unaiza May 2 (UM2) approximately 13.5 nautical miles east northeast of the BRP Sierra Madre.
The Philippine Coast Guard is now escorting the Unaiza May 1 and 2 back to their home port, the National Security Council said in a statement.
“We will not be deterred, and we will continue to resupply our troops in BRP Sierra Madre despite provocations,” said Año.
An international advocacy group that has been monitoring the South China Sea situation said that this is the first time they have seen such a collision in the West Philippine Sea.
“This one, in terms of how close the ships came to one another and actually the fact that they actually touched one another on at least two occasions that we know of, is certainly marking a serious escalation on China’s part,” said Ray Powell, director of monitoring team SeaLight at Stanford University’s Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation, in Mav Gonzales’ report on “24 Oras Weekend.”
Although the crews of the Philippine vessels involved in the collisions were safe and unharmed, Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, Commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (WESCOM) highlighted their dedication to protect the Philippines’ maritime territory and to deliver the supplies needed by our soldiers.
“We remain determined to secure our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction. Your WESCOM is undaunted,” he said.
Meanwhile, the PCG vessels MRRV-4407 and MRRV-4409 are escorting supply boats Unaiza May 1 and 2 back to their home port.
PCG MRRV-4409 will stay with the supply boats to ensure the damaged supply boat will safely make the trip.
PCG vessel ‘bumped’
Also, during the RORE mission, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel MRRV 4409’s port side was also “bumped” by Chinese maritime militia vessel 00003 (CMMV 00003) while it was lying approximately 6.4NM northeast of Ayungin Shoal.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) condemned this latest dangerous, irresponsible, and illegal actions of the CCG and the Chinese Maritime Militia, which it said violated Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.
Several countries including the US, Canada, France, and Britain condemned the Chinese vessels’ actions.
The European Union called the incident dangerous and disturbing and joined the Philippines in calling for the full observance of international law in the South China Sea.
However, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Embassy in Manila countered that the CCG acted in a “reasonable, lawful, and professional” manner. — DVM/BM, GMA Integrated News