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AFP resupply mission at Ayungin resumes despite tension in West PHL Sea

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The military carried out its resupply mission for its troops aboard the partly sunken BRP Sierra Madre on Tuesday, exactly a week after two Chinese Coast Guard vessels attacked with water cannons the two civilian boats bringing the supplies to the soldiers which aborted the mission.

The delivery of supplies apparently went along with the deployment of troops on scheduled rotation aboard the Sierra Madre, which is being used as an outpost by the military in securing the Ayungin Shoal.

“The two civilian resupply boats manned by the Philippine Navy arrived at the Sierra Madre in the Ayungin shoal at 11 a.m.today without any untoward incident,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said hours after the two boats reached the Sierra Madre. “They are presently unloading personnel and cargo.“

“After a couple of days they will return to Oyster Bay,” the defense chief added, referring to the Philippine Navy’s base in Palawan

The resupply mission was undertaken after Lorenzana told on Sunday that he had ordered the Armed Forces Western Command to carry out the aborted activity, wherein China’s ambassador in Manila has also assured that Beijing will not interfere in the resupply.

Still, China did not allow the delivery of supplies and personnel to go smoothly as a Chinese Coast Guard vessel was in the area that sent a rubber boat manned by three men who drew close to Sierra Madre.

“There was a Chinese coast guard ship in the vicinity which sent a rubber boat with three persons near the Sierra madre while our boats were unloading and took photos and videos,” Lorenzana said.

“I have communicated to the Chinese ambassador that we consider these acts as a form of intimidation and harassment,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has replenished fishing gears and basic supplies in Pag asa Island over the weekend.

PCG spokesman Commodore Armando Balilo said BRP Capones (MRRV-4404) of the PCG Task Force Pagsasanay (PCGTF-P) turned over the items to the municipality of Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) in support of the thrust of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to support the operations of local fishermen especially those in remote territories such as the KIG. 

It also ferried provisions for the PCG and Philippine National Police (PNP) stations in the area.

“Relieving personnel were also transported to provide sufficient rest period to deployed law enforcement teams which is necessary in upholding public health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Balilo added. 

While underway to Pag-asa Island from Puerto Princesa, Palawan, BRP Capones (MRRV-4404)’s commanding officer Captain Glen Daraug has monitored a China Coast Guard vessel approximately one to two nautical miles away from their vessel. No radio challenge was made by the Chinese ship while the Coast Guard ship continued its course towards its destination.

PCG Commandant Admiral Leopoldo Laroya said the routine mission of the PCGTF-P in the country’s maritime zones has manifested the PCG’s firm commitment to the government’s whole of nation approach on safeguarding national interests through rules-based and peaceful approach. 

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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