US defense chief hails AFP's professionalism amid China aggression | Global News

US defense chief hails AFP’s professionalism amid China aggression

/ 03:14 PM December 14, 2023

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) condemned the water cannon attack of China Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) on Philippine vessels en route for a routine resupply and rotation (RoRe) mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal on Sunday.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said Saturday’s water cannon attack by the China Coast Guard (CCG) caused “significant damage” to the Datu Bankaw (left) which was on a humanitarian mission. (Screen grab from Philippine Coast Guard video)

MANILA, Philippines — US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III lauded the professionalism of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) despite China’s recent “unlawful behavior” in the West Philippine Sea.

Austin expressed this during his phone conversation with  Department of National Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).


“The Secretaries discussed coercive and unlawful actions by the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea over the weekend, including the unprovoked use of acoustic devices, water cannons, and reckless maneuvers at Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal, which caused a collision and damage to lawfully operating Philippine vessels,” the readout from the Pentagon stated.


“He (Austin) commended the professionalism of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the face of unlawful behavior,” it added.

Austin and Teodoro made the communication following China’s successive deployment of water cannons last week.

On Dec. 9 (Saturday), the China Coast Guard (CCG) fired water cannons anew at civilian ships conducting a humanitarian mission for Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal.

The CCG also fired a water cannon on Dec. 13 (Sunday) at a boat on a resupply mission for Philippine military personnel manning the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal.

“Iron clad”

Austin reiterated that the United States’ support to Philippines’ territorial defense is “ironclad,” noting that the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) extends to both countries’ armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft — including those of their respective Coast Guards — anywhere in the Pacific including the South China Sea.


Signed on August 30, 1951, the MDT states that both nations would support each other if an external party attacked either Manila or Washington.

“Secretary Austin expressed U.S. support for the Philippines in defending its sovereign rights in accordance with international law, emphasizing that the United States’ commitment to the Philippines remains ironclad,” it further said.


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PCG: China deployed most number of vessels during Sunday resupply mission

China ship hits PH vessels on humanitarian drive with water cannon in West PH Sea

NTF-WPS condemns China’s dangerous maneuvers, water cannon attack

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TAGS: AFP, China, DND, Philippines, US, West Philippine Sea

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