China ship hits PH vessels on humanitarian drive with water cannon in West PH Sea
PALAWAN, Philippines — China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels fired water cannons anew “at least eight times” at Philippine civilian ships conducting a humanitarian mission for Filipino fishermen off Scarborough Shoal on Saturday morning, the National Task Force on West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said.
The CCG used its water cannons against the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels Datu Sanday, Datu Bankaw, and Datu Tamblot, the NTF-WPS said.
The BFAR vessels vessels approached 1.4 to 1.9 nautical miles from the sandbank when the ships utilized water cannons to obstruct and prevent BFAR vessels from approaching the Filipino fishing vessels.
“The water cannons had been used at least eight times at the time of reporting,” the NTF-WPS said in a statement, adding that the mission is still ongoing as of posting time.
“Water cannon action has resulted in significant damage to BFAR vessel Datu Tamblot’s communication and navigation equipment, as it was directly and deliberately targeted by the CCG,” it also said.
A long-range acoustic device was also used by the CCG against the BFAR vessels which caused “severe temporary discomfort and incapacitation to some Filipino crew.”
CCG also used rigid hull inflatable boats against the BFAR vessels to disperse and drive away Filipino fishing vessels eagerly awaiting the distribution of fuel subsidies and food supplies.
“To prevent the distribution of humanitarian support is not only illegal but also inhumane,” the NTF-WPS said.
Meanwhile, Filipino fishermen have reported and documented the CCG launching a small boat on early Saturday morning to “illegally install” a floating barrier at the southeast entrance of Bajo De Masinloc, hindering the BFAR vessel from accessing the entrance of the shoal.
China continues to assert its sovereignty in almost the entire South China Sea — including most of the western section of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone — despite a 2016 international tribunal ruling effectively dismissing such claims.
The sandbank locally known as Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc is now under China’s control after a standoff with Manila in 2012.
The 2016 Arbitral Award also clarified that Filipinos have traditional fishing rights off the waters of the low-tide elevation.
In line with Beijing’s sovereignty claim, the CCG also used water cannons against Manila’s resupply fleet for the BRP Sierra Madre grounded in Ayungin Shoal in August and November this year.