‘No intention to hurt, provoke Philippines troops’

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
�No intention to hurt, provoke Philippines troops�
A Philippine resupply boat is sandwiched between two Chinese boats during a mission to deliver supplies to troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal last June 17.
STAR / File

China actions meant to stop resupply, says NTF-West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese did not intend to harm Filipino coast guard and military personnel when they boarded their boats – brandishing pick axes and sticks – to prevent them from reaching the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal last week, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela said yesterday.

The June 17 incident, which drew condemnation from the international community, was considered the most violent move so far by Chinese to disrupt a resupply mission for troops stationed on the Sierra Madre.

“On the part of the People’s Republic of China, their real intention was to prevent the resupply mission. There is no reason to interpret it as an armed attack because it was just an intention of China to prevent the resupply from being successful,” Tarriela said at the Saturday News Forum, echoing Malacañang’s pronouncement on Friday that the Chinese action did not constitute an armed attack, hence not enough to trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States.

Sought for details on the incident, Tarriela said China’s only intention was to block the rotation and resupply mission for the Sierra Madre.

“The main objective was not to have armed aggression but to prevent the Philippine government from doing the resupply,” he said.

He added that while previous news reports indicated that CCG personnel were carrying knives, axes and other bladed weapons when they boarded the Filipinos’ rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs), their purpose was to cause damage or destroy the boats’ communications and navigation equipment and not to fight Filipinos.

“They were armed with axe, knives, bolo. My question is, did you see any of them in the video using bolo, axe, knife against our soldiers? No. The only thing we saw from the videos was, these were the instruments used to cause damage to the boats used by our soldiers,” Tarriela pointed out.

Nonetheless, Tarriela said the government is sticking to its condemnation of the “barbaric and inhumane behavior” of the CCG towards its Philippine counterparts.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines led the June 17 resupply mission for the Sierra Madre outpost manned by a handful of Marines. The CCG operation to stop the resupply mission reportedly hurt at least eight Filipinos, according to initial reports, with one military personnel – identified by the AFP as Seaman First Class Jeffrey Facundo – losing a thumb.


Tarriela said Facundo’s injury was a result of the “high-speed ramming incident” involving Chinese and Filipino RHIBs, hence an “accident.”

Video footage from the AFP that Tarriela posted on X showed the CCG attackers outnumbering the Filipinos.

One of the CCG personnel was seen smashing a rod against a Filipino RHIB and using the same rod to pick a bag from the Philippine boat.

In another recording, another CCG personnel was seen flashing strobe lights at Filipinos, apparently to disorient them.

He said on X the CCG operation “prevented (the AFP and the PCG) from carrying out a routine and legitimate resupply mission to our troops onboard BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, highlights their flagrant violation of international law.”

“It is evident that their greedy ambition has driven them to resort to violence,” he added.

Despite the Chinese getting bolder, Tarriela maintained there is no need to ask for help from other countries in dealing with threats from Chinese forces during rotation and resupply missions.

“Right now we don’t see any reason to request any foreign actor to support our ordinary, routine mission to BRP Sierra Madre,” he said.

Tarriela echoed the declaration from Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Presidential Assistant on Maritime Concerns Andres Centino that the violent disruption of the June 17 resupply mission could not yet be considered an armed attack.

The 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the US was not even discussed during the National Maritime Council meeting spearheaded by the two officials after the June 17 incident.

Tarriela emphasized the PCG and the AFP were still capable of carrying out rotation and resupply missions, despite Chinese harassment, as such endeavors are “ordinary, legitimate and routine.”

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