Palace doubles down: No promise to China to remove BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday issued a short but curt response to China’s claim that the Philippines promised to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal.
“No such thing,” Secretary Cheloy Garafil, of the Presidential Communications Office, said to reporters.
China had claimed that the Philippines promised several times to tow away the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin shoal but did not specify which government agency or leader made such a promise.
“In 1999, the Philippines sent a military vessel and deliberately ran it aground at Ren’ai Jiao, attempting to change the status quo of Ren’ai Jiao illegally. China immediately made serious démarches to the Philippines, demanding the removal of the vessel. The Philippines promised several times to tow it away, but has yet to act. Not only that, the Philippines sought to overhaul and reinforce the military vessel in order to permanently occupy Ren’ai Jiao,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
On Saturday, the Chinese Coast Guard attacked members of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Armed Forces of the Philippines while the latter was on resupply runs to the BRP Sierra Madre.
The attack prompted widespread condemnation from Filipino leaders, as well as countries such as the United States and Japan.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had previously said that a note verbale has been sent to China following the incident, while the Department of Foreign Affairs has already filed a total of 34 diplomatic protests against China in 2023.