Dozens of Chinese vessels monitored in Ayungin Shoal

Dozens of Chinese vessels monitored in Ayungin Shoal
(Contributed)

THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it has monitored 38 Chinese vessels in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal during the conduct of the recent resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre.

In a press briefing, Commodore Jay Tarriela, the PCG spokesperson for West Philippine Sea (WPS), said of the 38 vessels, 16 were maritime militias, 12 were Chinese militia vessels, five China Coast Guard (CCG) ships and five People's Liberation Army vessels.

"If you are asking as to the number of Chinese vessels present in the vicinity of the Ayungin Shoal, I think it's fair to say that this is the highest number because there were 38 documented," Terriela said.

He said six of the said Chinese Militia Maritime Militia vessels and the five CCG ships were involved in blocking anew the Philippine vessels conducting resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre.

However, Tarriela said the resupply mission has been successful despite the attempt of China vessels “to recklessly harass, block, and execute dangerous maneuvers” against the Philippine ships.

China has been consistently insisting on sovereignty in the Ayungin Shoal where the BRP Sierra Madre was deliberately grounded by the Philippine authorities to mark the rights of the country in the territorial waters.

Ayungin Shoal is within the Philippines’ 200-kilometer exclusive economic zone.

The Arbitral Tribunal has affirmed the country’s rights in Ayungin Shoal, invalidating China’s claim in almost the entire West Philippine Sea.

In October, several Philippine vessels were conducting routine and regular rotation and resupply (RORE) missions to BRP Sierra Madre when Chinese vessels tried to block them resulting in two collisions.

Philippine officials have repeatedly condemned the harassment staged by China against the Philippine vessels.

In the light of the recent incident, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri tagged China as a “bully.”

“We again see China as a bully: using size and brute strength to illegally encroach upon our EEZ and enforce a baseless right to drive away our protectors,” he said.

“But water cannons and blockades will not dampen the will and resolve of our Navy and our Coast Guard to protect our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

Zubiri assured the PCG and the Philippine Navy that the Senate is behind them 100 percent.

The Senate, according to Zubiri earlier, is inclined to allocate more budget for 2024 to government agencies in charge of securing the country's territorial waters.

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