‘West PH Sea resupply mission a success despite China interference’
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government conducted another successful rotation and resupply (Rore) mission to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre in the West Philippine Sea on Wednesday despite the presence of and harassment by Chinese vessels.
Supply ships Unaizah May 1 and Unaizah May 2, escorted by Philippine Coast Guard vessels BRP Cabra and BRP Sindangan, successfully conducted the resupply mission for the commissioned Philippine Navy ship situated in Ayungin Shoal to assert Manila’s presence in the West Philippine Sea.
“Upon instructions of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., a regular and routine Rotation and Resupply mission to deliver fresh provisions to our military personnel stationed at BRP Sierra Madre was conducted today,” the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said in a statement.
“Despite attempts by a significant number of China Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese Maritime Militia vessels to block, harass, and interfere with the routine Rore mission, Philippine supply ships … successfully reached BRP Sierra Madre,” it added.
Since 1999, the BRP Sierra Madre has hosted a small contingent of military personnel.
But the resupply mission in this World War II-era warship was hounded with harassment of the CCG through their use of military-grade lasers last February and water cannons in August.
“These missions are a legitimate exercise of the administrative functions of the Philippine government over the WPS,” the NTF-WPS said.
China’s actions are based on its assertion that it has jurisdiction over most of the South China Sea, including the WPS, though its so-called ten-dash line.
In 2013, the then nine-dash line was challenged by the Philippines before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, but the 2016 Arbitral Award effectively dismissed the sweeping demarcation.