Christmas convoy to Ayungin by civilian group ‘ill-advised’ – NSC
MANILA, Philippines — The government does not support the planned convoy of a civilian group to bring Christmas presents and provisions to soldiers stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement on Tuesday, National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said that while the NSC supports “in principle” the intent of the Atin Ito coalition, “undertaking such a convoy to Ayungin Shoal at this time of heightened tensions between the Philippines and China is ill-advised.”
National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, the NSC’s director general, serves as the chair of the interagency National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea.
The government instead encouraged the group to undertake the Christmas convoy to any of the Philippine-occupied features in the Kalayaan Island Group of Palawan province, particularly Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, the largest among the islands and the only with permanent civilian inhabitants of at least 400.
They may also opt to visit other outposts in the West Philippine Sea, such as Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Kota (Loaita) Island, Likas (West York) Island, Parola (Northeast Cay) Island, Panata (Lankiam Cay) Island, Patag (Flat) Island and Rizal (Commodore) Reef, where government troops are also present. The group may also opt to turn over the Christmas donations they had collected to the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard who would bring them to the BRP Sierra Madre during the resupply missions.
“There is, therefore, no need for a civilian Christmas convoy mission at this time,” he said.