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Senators call out China for repeatedly blocking Philippine resupply missions

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Senators call out China for repeatedly blocking Philippine resupply missions
This videograb taken and released on October 22, 2023, by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) shows a collision between a Chinese Coast Guard ship (L) and Philippines' resupply boat (R) during a resupply mission near the Second Thomas Shoal, in the disputed South China Sea. Beijing and Manila traded blame on October 22, for two collisions between Chinese vessels and Philippine boats on a resupply mission to Filipino troops on a remote outpost in the disputed South China Sea.
AFP PHOTO / ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES (AFP)

MANILA, Philippines — Senators have called out Chinese maritime militia’s repeated attempts to block Filipino vessels at every turn in the Philippines’ own waters after a fresh collision with the Chinese Coast Guard derailed another resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in the West Philippine Sea.

In separate statements, senators said that the incident speaks to China’s continued disregard for international law, necessitating a bigger budget to boost the defense capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard and for the Philippines’ “allies” to help patrol the tense waterways.

This comes after the Chinese Coast Guard vessel’s “dangerous blocking maneuvers” caused it to collide with a Philippine resupply boat 13.5 nautical miles east northeast of the grounded warship at Ayungin Shoal on Sunday, according to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea.

Following the incident, a Chinese maritime militia vessel also “bumped” a PCG vessel approximately 6.4 nautical miles northeast of Ayungin Shoal during the same resupply mission, the task force added.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said that Chinese vessels have “chased, blocked, and harassed” the PCG “every single time” it conducts a supply mission for troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre, which was intentionally run aground in 1999 to physically demarcate the Philippines' claim to sovereignty over the Spratly islands.

 “China has no right to drive away our troops from our waters. And they have even less right to harm and collide with the Filipino ship that is only doing its job in our own territory,” Hontiveros said in Filipino.

Limited storage on the rusty warship requires the conduct of monthly resupply missions for members of the Philippine Marines stationed there. While China has accused the Philippines of using these missions to secretly transport construction materials to expand the outpost, the Philippines has denied this, asserting that all shipments are exclusively for the purpose of repairing the ship.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri cited the incident as another reason to increase the budget of the PCG and the Armed Forces of the Philippines “to better capacitate them in safeguarding our exclusive economic zones from illegal foreign intrusions.”

“As leader of the Senate, I will make sure that our troops will get sufficient funds under the 2024 national budget to bankroll the much-needed upgrade of their equipment,” Zubiri said.

Sen. Grace Poe has also expressed concern over the potentially heightened tensions in the region over the incident — which maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said was meant to test the resolve of Washington.

 “While an immediate diplomatic protest is anticipated, the recent incident calls for a serious rethinking of our strategies in dealing with these acts,” Poe said.

“As we firmly assert our rights in our waters, fortifying our relations with like-minded states must continue to thwart similar belligerent actions,” the senator added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday morning summoned Beijing's ambassador over the two collisions, with DFA Spokesperson Teresita Daza saying that Manila is "making full use of the diplomatic processes... available to us."

— with reports by Gaea Katreena Cabico and Agence France-Presse

vuukle comment

BRP SIERRA MADRE

PCG

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

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