Navy crew in resupply mission in BRP Sierra Madre says ‘they were unarmed’
PALAWAN, Philippines — The Philippine Navy crew who joined the resupply mission in BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal said they were unarmed while doing the task.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard Lonogan said it’s because their mission is civilian in nature.
“The boat is civilian-owned, so we did not bring arms there,” Lonogan said in a press conference in Western Command headquarters here in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
“Our intention is to bring supply goods necessary for the sustainment of our troops in BRP [Sierra Madre],” Lonogan added. “The protection of the supply boats is the task of the Coast Guard.”
The China Coast Guard vessel fired a water cannon at a PCG vessel and a supply ship delivering food, water, fuel and other supplies to military personnel stationed in BRP Sierra Madre.
The mission was only partially fulfilled as one of the boats proceeded while the other one returned to Puerto Princesa City.
Lieutenant Ramsey Gutierrez said the supply of rice, vegetables, meat, and other goods for the crew of the ship was hit by the water cannon, rendering it unusable.
The BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned Philippine Navy vessel which has hosted a small contingent of military personnel to assert Manila’s claim to the disputed waters since 1999.
Ayungin Shoal is a low-tide elevation about 194 kilometers off Palawan province that is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
China’s actions are anchored on its assertion that it owns almost all of the areas in the South China Sea, including the WPS through its nine-dash line.
But the Philippines challenged this before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which later invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claim.