Philippines faces 'barbaric' knife, axe wielding Chinese sailors in WPS

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The actions of China’s Coast Guard (CCG) during the Monday altercation at Ayungin Shoal were "barbaric," as they involved "physical attacks and violence" against Philippine Navy soldiers during a routine resupply mission for the anchored BRP Sierra Madre, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Spokesman Rear Admiral Jay Tarriela said.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the PCG spokesperson said that if the CCG's actions are left unchecked, it "will not just be a loss for our fight in the West Philippine Sea."

“These provocative, unprofessional, and inhumane actions of China…They serve as a clear indication that humanity has once again allowed barbarism to trample upon compassion, and that what is right is only defined by might,” Tariella wrote.

In a video released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday evening, CCG personnel were seen surrounding and blocking the PCG’s rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs).

"CCG personnel violently attached ropes to tow the AFP's RHIB while threatening to injure an AFP soldier w/ a pickaxe," the AFP wrote on X.

"They also employed blaring sirens to create chaos, disrupt communication, and divert the attention of AFP troops, exacerbating the hostile & dangerous situation," it added.

In one video, PCG personnel were shown attending to a colleague whose thumb had been cut off when it was caught between the boats of the PCG and CCG.

China's coast guard personnel were also observed boarding the PCG’s RHIBs and striking it.

The AFP condemned the CCG's attacks, describing them as pirate-like actions.

“For me, this is piracy. Piracy because they boarded our boats illegally, they got our equipment. Again, they are like pirates in the way they acted,” AFP Chief Romero Brawner Jr. told the members of the press on Wednesday

“This is the first time we saw the CCG armed with bolos, spears and knives. On the other hand, our troops were unarmed and the guns we were carrying were disassembled and in gun cases, because we were transporting this to LS57,” he added. 

According to the AFP, the CCG personnel illegally seized seven rifles, destroyed communications and equipment and punctured one of the RHIBs.

In a post on X, former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the actions of the CCG personnel can be considered piracy or even qualified piracy. 

“They illegally boarded our vessels, seized items and caused physical injuries,” De Lima said. 

On June 15, China authorized its coast guard to detain foreigners who are illegally entering “Chinese waters” for up to 30 days.

In response, the AFP said it would protect Filipino fishermen in the area through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the PCG.

The BRP Sierra Madre was anchored at the Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as an outpost on the said shoal in response to China's occupation of the nearby Mischief Reef.

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