Zubiri: Resupply mission to Ayungin successful but China still blocking PH vessels
UPDATED MANILA, Philippines — The resupply mission to soldiers stationed at Ayungin Shoal on Friday which was escorted by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) was a success, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said.
However, the Senate leader noted in a statement that China still attempts to block the Philippine vessels moving towards BRP Sierra Madre, which is beached over Ayungin Shoal.
Ayungin Shoal is an atoll west of Palawan in the Spratly Islands, well within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Zubiri’s statement comes after supplies were delivered on Friday to soldiers at BRP Sierra Madre, the ship beached at Ayungin.
“I thank and congratulate our Philippine Navy and Coast Guard as they complete another resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal, making it the third successful mission in five weeks,” the Senate leader said.
“Once again, I salute our men and women of the AFP and PCG for fearlessly staying on track to complete their mission despite intimidation from the Chinese Coast Guard and militia vessels,” he added.
Videos sent by the Office of the Senate President showed a bird’s eye view of the resupply mission.
Initially, Zubiri said that gray ships in the footage are Philippine Navy vessels, while the other vessels belong to the Chinese Coast Guard.
Zubiri clarified on Saturday that no Philippine Navy vessel was present, and only the Philippine Coast Guard guided the resupply mission.
According to Zubiri, the gray ships in the footage belong are Philippine vessels, while the other vessels that ‘want to hit the Navy boats’ belong to the Chinese Coast Guard.
At the start of the 50-second video, four vessels can be seen in the middle portion of the screen.
The white vessel from the right-hand side shows the livery of the Chinese Coast Guard. At one point (00:03 and 00:19), the white vessel, believed to be the Chinese Coast Guard, was seen aggressively cutting the path of the Philippine boat — forcing the latter to adjust its course (00:22 to 00:28).
The two ships on the left side appear to be PN vessels, while the smaller boat on the bottom right is the resupply watercraft.
Moving from the right-hand side is a white vessel that shows the livery of the Chinese Coast Guard.
At one point (00:03 and 00:19), the white vessel, believed to be the Chinese Coast Guard, was seen aggressively cutting the path of the Philippine boat — forcing the latter to adjust its course (00:22 to 00:28).
A zoom-in on the white vessels shows the blue stripes and solid red line livery commonly seen on the bow of Chinese Coast Guard vessels (00:38).
“The grey ships are ours, but the one na nagsisingit sa likod at gustong banggain ang supply at Navy boats natin is Chinese Coast Guard. Doing very dangerous maneuvers,” Zubiri said.
On Saturday, Zubiri clarified that only PCG vessels were present, and the Philippine Navy ships were observing the situation farther behind.
“I stand corrected everyone, it’s our Coast Guard ships (that) were escorting our supply vessels. Our Navy ships were farther away monitoring the situation. My source was mistaken when I reported the video yesterday, my apologies,” Zubiri said.
“Boats in the video are Chinese Militia boats and Chinese Coast Guard. So we have 2 ships while China has 3,” he added.
(The grey ships are ours, but the one cutting in from behind and that wants to hit our supply and Navy boats is the Chinese Coast Guard.)
The Senate President said lawmakers are prepared to help the Navy and Coast Guard so that they will be able to defend the country’s territories.
“This is a humanitarian resupply mission. Only barbarians at the gate will delight at seeing soldiers on a peaceful mission denied of food,” he pointed out.
“As long as the law and truth are on our side, illegal barriers to what is ours will continue to be pierced by the sharp tip of world opinion that upholds our cause as just,” he said.
Issues about the resupply mission came about after last August 6, when a Chinese Coast Guard vessel water-cannoned Philippine vessels that were only trying to bring supplies to soldiers at BRP Sierra Madre.
In response to the event, China claimed that a former administration promised to remove BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin, but the promise has not been acted upon. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. then said that he has not made that agreement, and if such a deal exists, it has already been terminated.