Gov’t wants to repair, not replace, BRP Sierra Madre – Brawner
MANILA, Philippines — The government wants to repair the BRP Sierra Madre — not replace it with another ship, Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said on Monday in an ambush interview in Camp Aguinaldo.
“What we are doing right now is that we are just maintaining that outpost,” Brawner said.
“Even if China tells us not to repair it, that is a commissioned ship of the Philippine Navy. So we have the right to repair it to make the ship livable by our troops,” he added, speaking partly in Filipino.
The BRP Sierra Madre is a World War II landing ship tank that the Philippine Navy deliberately ran aground at Ayungin Shoal, some 194 kilometers from Palawan, to serve as one of the military outposts to watch over the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. It is manned by a contingent of marines.
China has repeatedly barred the Philippines from bringing construction materials to the decrepit ship.
“My stand really, is we have the right to repair that ship,” Brawner said.
“You know, the Philippines follows the law — international law. And what is agreed upon is the status quo: No one should develop the islands. But China did not follow that. We are not like that. So since 1999, we did not take such steps again. And this would also prevent the country from doing the same thing. If we do that again, then China and other claimants could also run their ships aground.”