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China Coast Guard blocked, water cannoned Philippine boats en route to Ayungin — DFA

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China Coast Guard blocked, water cannoned Philippine boats en route to Ayungin — DFA
The BRP Sierra Madre serves as an outpost of the Philippine Marines in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippine government ran it aground deliberately on Ayungin (Second Thomas Shoal) in 1999 to assert the country's sovereignty in that part of the South China Sea.
AFP / File

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 8:26 a.m.) — Three Chinese coast guard vessels forced a Philippines' resupply mission in the West Philippine Sea to abort by blocking and spraying with water canon two supply boats on their way to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal on November 16.

In a statement, the Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. cited the armed forces' Western Command in Palawan which reported the incident. "Fortunately, no one was hurt; but our boats had to abort the resupply mission," Locsin said.

"The Philippine will continue to provide supplies to our troops in Ayungin Shoal. We do not ask permission to do what we need to do to our territory," Locsin added.

The mission was to transport supplies to military personnel stationed at BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated navy vessel that serves as Marine outpost on the shoal within Philippine waters.

Locsin said the Philippines has protested the incident and reminded China that "a public vessel is covered by the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty."

The 1951 treaty that forged the longstanding alliance dictates that both nations would come to each others' aid when attacked by a foreign party. Earlier this year, Washington reaffirmed its committed to enforce the treaty.

"I have conveyed in the strongest terms to H.E. Huang Xillian, Ambassador of China and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, our outrage, condemnation and protest of the incident," Locsin said.

The shoal is part of the hotly contested Spratlys, which the Philippines calls Kalayaan Island Group, and is well within the country's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. This means the Philippines has "sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction" over the area, Locsin said.

"The acts of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels are illegal," he added. "China has no law enforcement rights in and around these areas. They must take heed and back off."

Locsin also cited the "special relationship" between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, arguing that the incident is a "failure to exercise self-restraint" on China's part.

Duterte has been criticized for his soft and defeatist policies toward China, which has repeatedly flouted the Philippines' rights and international rules in the strategic waterway.

What went before

1951 MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY AYUNGIN SHOAL BRP SIERRA MADRE SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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