Brawner: China acted like pirates in recent harassment in WPS

MANILA. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner in a press conference Tuesday, June 4, 2024.
MANILA. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner in a press conference Tuesday, June 4, 2024.Photo by Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Romeo Brawner likened the actions of the China Coast Guard (CCG) to prevent the recent routine rotation and resupply (Rore) mission of the Philippines to what “pirates” do.

In a press conference in Palawan, Brawner confirmed that a Navy member lost a thumb due to the harassment of the CCG, while several others were wounded.

MANILA. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner in a press conference Tuesday, June 4, 2024.
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He said the Chinese also threatened the Filipino troops by pointing their knives.

Despite having their firearms on board the resupply boat, the Filipino troops fought with their bare hands.

Brawner said the CCG seized the firearms of the troops.

"For me, this is piracy already, 'no? Piracy. Because they boarded our boats illegally. They got our equipment, 'no? Again... parang mga pirata na po sila doon sa mga ginawa nilang actions na 'yun (They were like pirates),” said Brawner.

“With their bare hands, tinutulak nila ang RHIB ng (rigid hull inflatable boats of) Chinese Coast Guard. They were preventing Chinese Coast Guard from hitting them… Despite the absence of weapons to defend themselves ay lumaban po sila… We have arms, but we did not use those. Ayaw po natin magkaroon ng giyera (We don’t want war),” he added.

MANILA. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner in a press conference Tuesday, June 4, 2024.
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Brawner demanded the return of the firearms and for the CCG to pay for the damages incurred by the Philippines during the harassment.

“Our action now is that we are demanding that the Chinese return our rifles and our equipment and we are also demanding from them to pay for the damages that they have caused. Babayaran nila po ‘yun dahil hindi po tayo papayag na ganon lang, sisirain nila yung ating kagamitan at kunin lang nila (They have to pay for the damage caused, because we won’t allow them to just seize and damage our equipment),” he said.

AFP Western Command chief Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres also revealed that the CCG personnel punctured the Philippine rigid hull inflatable boats using knives.

He said the Navy member lost his finger due to the high-speed ramming of the CCG.

The AFP awarded the personnel involved in the said mission. The soldier who lost his finger will receive a Wounded Personnel Medal.

Brawner said despite what happened, the severely injured soldier said he is still willing to go back and serve again in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), earlier condemned the latest “illegal and aggressive actions” of Chinese authorities in the WPS.

"We expect China to act sincerely and responsibly, and refrain from behavior that puts at risk the safety of personnel and vessels," the DFA said.

Other countries, through their respective embassies in Manila, including the United States, South Korea, Germany, Canada and New Zealand, denounced China’s actions in the WPS, and urged them to abide by the international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which defines coastal and maritime boundaries of a country to regulate seabed exploration not within territorial claims, and to distribute revenue from regulated exploration to which both China and the Philippines are signatories. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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