Government denies downplaying recent Ayungin incident

MANILA. A Chinese Coast Guard personnel was caught on camera while threatening to injure an AFP soldier with a pickaxe during the humanitarian rotation and resupply mission at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal on June 17, 2024.
MANILA. A Chinese Coast Guard personnel was caught on camera while threatening to injure an AFP soldier with a pickaxe during the humanitarian rotation and resupply mission at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal on June 17, 2024.Photo from the Armed Forces of the Philippines

THE National Government clarified on Monday, June 24, 2024, that it is not downplaying the recent harassment by China to Filipino troops during the recent routine rotation and resupply (Rore) mission in Ayungin Shoal.

In a joint statement, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr., National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro said they see the latest incident in Ayungin not as a misunderstanding or an accident.

MANILA. A Chinese Coast Guard personnel was caught on camera while threatening to injure an AFP soldier with a pickaxe during the humanitarian rotation and resupply mission at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal on June 17, 2024.
Brawner: China acted like pirates in recent harassment in WPS

“It is a deliberate act of the Chinese officialdom to prevent us from completing our mission. After our visit to our troops in Palawan yesterday, where the President personally talked to the troops involved in the Rore, we have now come to a conclusion that it was not a misunderstanding or an accident,” the statement read.

“We are not downplaying the incident. It was an aggressive and illegal use of force,” it added.

The officials maintained that the country’s policy that it will not give up an inch of its territory in the West Philippine Sea to any foreign power has not changed.

They reiterated that the government will not publish schedules of any Rore missions.

“We will continue to defend our territory and exercise sovereign rights thereon as we see fit. We reiterate that we seek neither permission nor consent from anyone in performing our sworn duties in the West Philippine Sea,” the statement read.

“In this regard, we will continue our rotation and resupply missions on a regular basis, the welfare of our troops in the BRP Sierra Madre being a matter of utmost importance,” it added.

The Philippines said it will continue to find peaceful solutions to ongoing dispute in the West Philippine Sea, as it maintained the pronouncement of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that the country is not in the business to instigate wars and that it is a responsible state.

On June 17, China Coast Guard personnel harassed navy troops who were then conducting a Rore mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. They used tear gas, pointed the troops bladed weapons, punctured the Philippine Navy’s rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and destroyed the communication system of the boat and the cellphones of the Filipino personnel.

Eight navy personnel were injured during the incident, including one who lost his thumb due to the “intentional high-speed ramming” by the CCG to a Philippine vessel.

It took around 12 hours to rescue the wounded personnel due to the continued harassment of China.

Earlier, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said they do not consider the incident as an armed attack as it may be “a misunderstanding or an accident.”

Marcos commended the navy troops who participated in the Rore mission and awarded the wounded personnel. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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