PH not giving up BRP Sierra Madre grounded in Ayungin amid claims of damages by China

MANILA. This areral photo taken through a glass window of a military plane shows the dilapidated Sierra Madre ship of the Philippine Navy anchored near Ayungin Shoal with Filipino soldiers onboard to secure perimeter in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on May 11, 2015. (AP)
MANILA. This areral photo taken through a glass window of a military plane shows the dilapidated Sierra Madre ship of the Philippine Navy anchored near Ayungin Shoal with Filipino soldiers onboard to secure perimeter in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on May 11, 2015. (AP)

THE Philippine Navy stood firm that the BRP Sierra Madre will remain in the Ayungin Shoal amid claims of China that it is the main cause of damage to the coral system in the disputed territory.

In a press conference Tuesday, July 9, 2024, Philippine Navy spokesperson for WPS Rear Admiral Roy Vincent Trinidad maintained that China has caused massive damage to the environment in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), not the Philippines.

“We will not give up that ship, it is an indication of the government’s stand, it is the mandate of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to ensure the integrity of the national territory,” he said.

“We have to go back to history and check how they reclaim their current bases in Mischief Reef, Johnson Reef, and other reclaimed areas, they destroyed the environment,” he added.

In a statement, National Task Force (NTF)-WPS spokesperson Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya slammed China over its “false and classic misdirection” as he maintained that it is China who has been found to have caused irreparable damage to corals in the area.

He cited the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 on China’s involvement in the destruction of the maritime environment in Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) by building a large artificial island there and commencing large-scale island-building and construction work in Cuarteron Reef (Calderon Reef), Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef), Gaven Reef (Burgos Reef), Johnson Reef (Mabini Reef), Hughes Reef (McKennan Reef), and Subi Reef (Zamora Reef) which all now serve as Chinese military bases.

“The Arbitral Tribunal found that Chinese authorities were aware that their fishers were harvesting endangered sea turtles, coral, and giant clams on a substantial scale in the South China Sea, using methods that inflict severe damage on the coral reef environment, and they had not fulfilled their obligations to stop such activities,” said Malaya.

In a 2023 report of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, it said that more than 6,200 acres of coral reef have been destroyed by island-building activities in the South China Sea, with 75% of the damage being done by China.

It also noted the damage in 16,353 acres of coral reef due to giant clam harvesting by Chinese fishermen.

It said China has caused the most reef destruction through dredging and landfill, burying roughly 4,648 acres of reef.

In March Filipino researchers from the University of the Philippine (UP) Institute of Biology conducted a study on marine life in Sandy Cay in the WPS where it was found that it was already in a “degraded state.”

The experts noted dead corals piled higher than a person on top of live corals and there is already a low fish diversity and abundance and low coral diversity in the area.

Malaya urged the public and the international community to be wary and conscious of ongoing activities by Chinese state-owned media and so-called “Chinese experts” to spread fake news and disinformation and conduct malign influence operations in the Philippines, including this false accusation against BRP Sierra Madre.

“We also call for an independent, third-party marine scientific assessment in the West Philippine Sea by impartial recognized experts --- using underwater surveys, collated satellite imagery, photo and video references, and other scientific means to establish the causes of coral reef damages and other recorded destruction of the maritime environment in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“We invite other Indo-Pacific nations to join the Philippines in pushing for a more united, coordinated, and sustained multilateral action to protect and preserve the marine and land biodiversity in our region,” Malaya added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

Trending

No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.
www.sunstar.com.ph