Philippines says boats damaged, crew injured in incident with Chinese vessels

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Philippines says boats damaged, crew injured in incident with Chinese vessels
Commodore Jay Tarriela says the China Coast Guard's "reckless and illegal actions led to a collision" between BRP Sindangan and China Coast Guard 21555.
Jay Tarriela

MANILA, Philippines (Updated, 1:55 p.m.) — China Coast Guard (CCG) ships collided with and fired water cannons at Philippine boats conducting a resupply mission in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), causing minor damage and injuries, authorities said Tuesday.

Commodore Jay Tarriela, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson for WPS matters, said that patrol vessels BRP Cabra and BRP Sindangan faced "dangerous maneuvers and blocking" from the CCG and Chinese maritime militia during a resupply mission to troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

"Their reckless and illegal actions led to a collision between [BRP Sindangan] and China Coast Guard 21555 that resulted in minor structural damage to the PCG vessel," Tarriela said in a post on X. 

In a separate statement, the National Task Force for the WPS said that CCG vessels 21555 and 21551 fired water cannons at Unaizah May 4, one of the two civilian boats contracted for the resupply mission. 

According to the task force, the use of water cannons shattered the wind shield of Unaizah May 4, causing minor injuries to four personnel on board. This prompted Unaizah May 4 to return to mainland Palawan.

Only Unaizah May 1 was able to deliver provisions to troops stationed at the grounded warship in Ayungin. 

"Once again, China's latest unprovoked acts of coercion and dangerous maneuvers against a legitimate and routine Philippine rotation and resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal have put the lives of our people at risk and caused actual injury to Filipinos on board Unaizah May 4," the NTF-WPS said.

"The systematic and consistent manner in which the People's Republic of China carries out these illegal and irresponsible actions puts into question the sincerity of its calls for peaceful dialogue and lessening of tensions," it added. 

China state-controlled media company Global Times reported Tuesday that the CCG "lawfully took control measures against a Philippine vessel illegally entering the waters adjacent to Ren'ai Jiao." Ren'ai Jiao is the Chinese name for Ayungin Shoal, also known as the Second Thomas Shoal.

China asserts sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, despite the international court ruling that deemed its stance to have no legal basis.

Its coast guard and militia vessels routinely block or shadow Philippine patrol and supply boats in the waters claimed by Manila, resulting in collisions and firing of water cannons.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Monday that the Philippines will cooperate with China in talks to address tensions in resource-rich waters, but will push back when its sovereign rights are ignored.

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