AFP adopts 'do-nothing' strategy in Ayungin Reef
AFP adopts 'do-nothing' strategy in Ayungin Reef
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - May 22, 2013 - 5:52pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is once again adopting a "do-nothing strategy" in Ayungin Reef, a part of the country’s regime of islands in the hotly-contested Spratlys region being claimed by five other countries including China whose ships have reportedly taken up position in the area.

Instead of confronting the Chinese warships, the AFP's Western Command (Wescom) has limited itself to just monitoring the activities of the Chinese warships and surveillance vessels within Ayungin Reef.

“Our task at the moment is to support the peaceful resolution of our conflict in Kalayaan Island Groups, so the AFP supports the diplomatic actions or protest by our government,” said Maj. Ramon Zagala ofthe AFP's public affairs office.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed a diplomatic protest against China over the presence of their warships inside Ayungin Reef, a vital supply route  from mainland Palawan to the Kalayaan town on Pag-Asa Island.

Ayungin is located near the Chinese occupied Mischief (Panganiban) Reef that now serves as China’s forward base for its warships. Both reefs are located near mainland Palawan.

While the military has sustained its air and maritime territorial patrols over the region, it has adopted a "do-nothing strategy" in order to avoid direct confrontation with foreign military intruders inside the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

A senior security official said the strategy has worked for decades among the Spratlys-claimant until China started its aggressive behavior.

Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesman for West Philippine Sea, meanwhile stressed that there's no mustering of Chinese warships in Ayungin saying the defense and military leadership are abreast of the current situation in the area.

Reports obtained from other sources, however, claimed that aside from three Chinese frigates and two surveillance ships, Chinese fishing boats are now gathered near the reef.

"We have not monitored a number of vessels to be construed as mustering (in the area)," Arevalo said, while stressing that the Navy's defense and security mandate to defend the country's territorial domain are well-settled under the Philippine Constitution.

In the case of Ayungin, he said the Navy has boots on the ground guarding the reef. He said the troops on forward deployment in the area continue to monitor the developments around the reef.

“The same is true with other Navy-occupied territories in the West Philippine Sea,” Arevalo said, while pointing out that the Navy’s actions in the area are all based from inter-agency and multi-lateral consultations between and amongst agencies of government.

AREVALO ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES AYUNGIN AYUNGIN REEF DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS EDGARD AREVALO EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE KALAYAAN ISLAND GROUPS MARINE COL WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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