ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. had told a Chinese official face-to-face that the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and that they should stop blocking the country’s resupply missions.
In a radio interview, Brawner said he told Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian that the WPS “is not your territory.”
“Nagkausap kami noong minsan na nakita kami at sinabi ko sa kanya that it (WPS) is not your territory. In fact, sinabi ko sa kanya na that is our exclusive economic zone,” he said.
(We talked once when he saw each other and I told him that it (WPS) is not your territory. In fact, I told him that that is our exclusive economic zone.)
“I also told them not to block the Christmas convoy because they are civilians merely bringing Christmas food and gifts to our soldiers and communities in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
Brawner was referring to the Atin Ito Coalition Christmas Convoy that aims to cheer Philippine forces in the BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal. It was scheduled on December 10 but it did not push through due to the harassment of China.
Brawner said Huang insisted that China has sovereignty over the WPS (South China Sea) and that the Philippines is provoking them, which he rejected.
He said he maintained that it was China that is provoking the Philippines by harassing its troops.
Over the weekend, Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels harassed Philippine ships by the use of water cannons near Bajo de Masinloc and Ayungin Shoal.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels were conducting regular humanitarian and support mission of providing oil subsidy and grocery packs to over 30 Filipino fishing vessels in Bajo de Masinloc when they encountered CCG and CMM ships, which bombarded them with water, causing damage to one of the ship’s communication and navigation equipment.
On December 10, unprovoked CCG and CMM vessels “harassed, blocked, and executed dangerous maneuvers” on Philippine civilian supply vessels in another attempt to illegally prevent a routine resupply and rotation mission (RORE) to BRP Sierra Madre grounded in Ayungin Shoal.
The Chinese vessels also used water cannons, which resulted in severe damage to the Philippine vessel’s engine. It was towed back to Palawan.
Brawner was aboard the Philippine vessel, which was harassed by China, but it successfully reached BRP Sierra Madre on December 10.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. maintained that the Philippines will remain undeterred by the continuous aggression and provocation of China. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)