West PH Sea supply missions fruitful amid China’s bullying – official
MANILA, Philippines — The two weekend supply missions in the West Philippine Sea were “a success” despite facing aggressive actions from the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG), according to National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya.
Malaya said Saturday’s humanitarian mission in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) is deemed accomplished because the Filipino fishermen received the supplies they needed.
“The BFAR [Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources] humanitarian and support mission to our fishermen was a success because, despite the dangerous maneuvers, blocking, and water cannons done by Chinese Coast Guard vessels and maritime militia in Bajo de Masinloc, our fishermen received the support they needed,” he said in an interview with ANC on Monday.
Three BFAR boats – Datu Sanday, Datu Bankaw, and Datu Tamblot – sailed to Bajo de Masinloc on December 9 to deliver fuel and groceries to more than 30 Filipino fishing boats waiting approximately a nautical mile from the entrance of the shoal.
But while conducting the mission, the CCG fired water cannons at BFAR’s boats to prevent them from approaching the Filipino fishermen – an act that the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) condemned.
Malaya underscored the humanitarian mission’s significance, citing a BFAR report revealing that the Filipino fishermen they assisted were able to catch approximately 30 metric tons of fish.
“We have shown our resolve to supply our fishermen; we will not be deterred and we will continue to supply our fishermen at Bajo de Masinloc,” he added.
However, the NSC official said Sunday’s routine resupply and rotation mission to BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal, also in the West Philippine Sea, was only a “partial success.”
“The Ayungin Shoal, on the other hand, had a further complication because M/L Kalayaan was hit and had to be towed back, so it was a partial success,” Malaya said.
“But in terms of showing the determination of the Philippines to continue these missions, notwithstanding whatever comes in our way, we have shown to the Chinese that we will not be intimidated,” he continued.
The CCG and maritime militia rammed and water cannoned Philippine vessels en route to BRP Sierra Madre, damaging one of the vessels – M/L Kalayaan, which returned to Ulugan Bay in Palawan.
Meanwhile, in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday, NTF-WPS spokesperson Jay Tarriela said the recent supply missions at Bajo de Masinloc and Ayungin Shoal should not be seen as an escalation from the Philippines.
“It is important to note that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ operation last Saturday was solely aimed at providing humanitarian assistance to Filipino fishermen. Similarly, the mission conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines yesterday was merely a resupply operation for our troops aboard BRP Sierra Madre,” he said.
“These operations were not intended to provoke any conflict but rather were routine in nature, with a humanitarian component aimed at supporting the livelihood of our fishermen and the well-being of our soldiers,” he added.
President Ferdinand Marcos earlier said in a statement that China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea only strengthened the Filipinos’ determination to protect the nation’s sovereignty.