PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Philippines will remain “undeterred” by the continuous aggression and provocations of China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
In a statement issued on Sunday evening, December 10, Marcos said the actions of China Coast Guard (CCG) and their Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) against the Philippine vessels carrying military personnel “have only further steeled our determination to defend and protect our nation's sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea.”
Marcos made the statement in light of the water cannoning and dangerous maneuvers perpetrated by China against several Philippine vessels conducting regular resupply and humanitarian operations in the Ayungin Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc over the weekend.
The actions taken by Chinese vessels resulted in significant damage to Philippine ships.
“I have been in constant communication with our national security and defense leadership, and have directed our uniformed services to conduct their missions with the utmost regard for the safety of our personnel, yet proceed with a mission-oriented mindset,” said Marcos.
The chief executive reiterated what he said that the Ayungin Shoal is within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone and that any foreign claim of sovereignty over it is baseless and absolutely contrary to international law.
He also noted that Bajo de Masinloc is a sovereign Philippine territory and an integral part of the country’s archipelago.
“No one but the Philippines has a legitimate right or legal basis to operate anywhere in the West Philippine Sea. The illegal presence in our waters and dangerous actions against our citizens is an outright and blatant violation of international law and the rules-based international order,” said Marcos.
Marcos expressed gratitude to the country’s military personnel who were taking part in ensuring the country's sovereign rights in the WPS as he assured them of the government's fullest support.
In an interview, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. said he was aboard M/V Unaiza Mae when it conducted a routine resupply and rotation mission (RORE) to BRP Sierra Madre grounded in Ayungin Shoal on December 10 when Chinese vessels made dangerous maneuvers and bombard them with water cannon.
“Nung winater cannon kami, mga ilang beses silang dumaan sa harap namin, tapos gusto pa kaming atrasan nung Chinese Coast Guard…Edi kinut kami sa harap. Nung lampas na sya, edi tutuloy na sana kami, aatrasan pa kami,” he said.
“Kahapon nakita namin napakaraming barko talaga, Chinese Militia, Chinese Coast Guard pero sabi nga ni Western Command commander na first time nilang nakita na ganung karami so ang suspetsa namin they were preparing for the Christmas convoy,” he added.
(Yesterday, we saw a lot of ships, Chinese Militia, Chinese Coast Guard but the Western Command commander said that it was the first time they saw so many, so we suspected they were preparing for the Christmas convoy.)
He said his trip to BRP Sierra Madre was approved by Marcos, who directed him to bring his regards to the troops there as well as some Christmas gifts.
Brawner said he will meet with Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and other security officials to discuss the steps to take following the incident.
Meanwhile, Atin Ito Coalition no longer pushed through with its Christmas convoy in the WPS that aims to cheer Philippine forces in the BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal following the advice of the military officials. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)