PH, US defense chiefs speak after Chinese water canon attack

PH, US defense chiefs speak a week after Chinese coast guard attack

/ 12:02 AM March 28, 2024

Navy personnel recount water cannon ordeal

A RED LINE To slip past water cannon attacks and blocking maneuvers of Chinese ships, last experienced during the incident in Ayungin Shoal on Tuesday, the Philippine military will focus on speed and maneuverability in its future missions to its outpost there, the BRP Sierra Madre, according to Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, chief of the Western Command. VIDEO GRAB FROM PCG

MANILA, Philippines — The defense chiefs of the Philippines and the United States spoke over the phone following China’s recent aggression in Ayungin Shoal.

The US Department of Defense said the dialogue between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro Jr. transpired on Wednesday—nearly a week after the March 23 incident in the West Philippine Sea.


READ: PH vessel sustains ‘heavy damage’ in Chinese coast guard attack


“Secretary Austin reaffirmed the ironclad US commitment to the Philippines following the PRC Coast Guard and maritime militia’s dangerous obstruction of a lawful Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal on March 23,” said a readout coming from the US Department of Defense.

“He emphasized US support for the Philippines in defending its sovereign rights  and jurisdiction, and reiterated that the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to both countries’ armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft—including those of its Coast Guard—anywhere in the Pacific, to include the South China Sea,” it added.

According to the department, the two high-ranking defense officials agreed to the importance of “preserving the rights of all nations to fly, sail, and operate safely and responsibly wherever international law allows.”

READ: More PH allies express concern over latest Chinese water cannon attack

READ: No letup in Chinese water cannon attacks


‘Final and binding’

Similar to Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo’s stand, the defense chiefs emphasized that the 2016 Tribunal Ruling is “final and binding.”

“The officials discussed historic momentum in [the] US-Philippine defense ties and reaffirmed their mutual commitment to strengthening the US-Philippine alliance, which has upheld peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region for over 70 years,” said the department.

Meanwhile, in the same phone call, Austin and Teodoro have categorically agreed to “bolster bilateral and multilateral cooperation with like-minded partners in the South China Sea” and both have “committed to accelerate a number of bilateral initiatives to enhance information-sharing, interoperability, and capability enhancements for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

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China’s water cannon attack on March 23 caused heavy damage to Philippine Supply Vessel Unaizah May 4 (UM4) while it was carrying out its mission of resupplying Philippine troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre.

The aggression likewise caused injury to some crew members of UM4.

TAGS: Ayung Shoal, Ayungin Shoal resupply missions, Chinese aggression, Department of Defense, Gilbert Teodoro Jr., Lloyd Austin III, US Department of Defense, West Philippine Sea, West Philippine Sea dispute

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