PCG: No need to explain PH actions ‘within our exclusive economic zone’
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) dismissed China’s allegations against Filipino troops delivering supplies to personnel aboard the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
PCG Commodore Jay Tarriela said Wednesday that the country has nothing to explain about its legitimate operations within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“Well, I am not really sure what is the basis of the good ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Philippines but I would like to stress that Ayungin Shoal is within our exclusive economic zone and is very distant — very far from China — for him to decide where we [could] bring construction materials or whatever we brought there,” the PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea said in a public briefing.
“We don’t need to explain what are the supplies that we need to bring on board BRP Sierra Madre,” he also said.
“BRP Sierra Madre is an active commissioned Philippine Navy vessel, and that is located in Ayungin Shoal inside our exclusive economic zone,” he continued.
Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said in a previous statement that Beijing’s problem with the Philippines is its alleged transporting of “large-scale building materials” and not the delivery of humanitarian supplies to BRP Sierra Madre, where a small contingent of military personnel stays following the World War II-era’s grounding on Ayungin Shoal in 1999.
Ayungin Shoal, which sits within Philippine waters, is a low-tide elevation about 194 kilometers off Palawan province.
The PCG on Tuesday conducted a successful resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre although the China Coast Guard (CCG) again attempted to block Philippine vessels from doing its activity.
The August 22 resupply mission came weeks after CCG fired water cannons at PCG vessels escorting two boats on a mission to replenish supplies for Filipino troops onboard the BRP Sierre Madre.
China’s action is stemmed from its belief that it owns almost the entire South China Sea. Its nine-dash line claim overlaps the West Philippine Sea and the Philippines’ EEZ.
The Philippines challenged China’s assertions and intrusions in Philippine waters before the International Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands. In July 2016, the United Nations-backed tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines’ case over the South China Sea.