PH forces harassed anew in Ayungin Shoal, says lawmaker
Philippine military forces were harassed anew by Chinese forces in Ayungin Shoal last May 11, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano revealed on Wednesday.
The opposition lawmaker mentioned the harassment at a Congressional briefing on the recent developments in the West Philippine Sea.
“On May 11, during a reprovisioning mission for our troops in Ayungin, LS507 of the Philippine Navy was challenged and harassed by the Coast Guard and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China,” he narrated.
“When the Philippine Navy ship launched a rubber boat to resupply BRP Sierra Madre, a chopper of PLAN hovered in a close and dangerous distance. The PLAN chopper was so close that sea water splash entered the rubber boat,” he added.
The Magdalo solon also disclosed that Chinese forces were aboard Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) boat, with bow number 3368, and the PLAN ship, with bow number 549.
Ayungin Shoal, which lies 105 nautical miles from Palawan, is being claimed by China. It is, however, well within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone and is also part of the continental shelf. There are Philippine troops also stationed in the area.
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Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano confirmed the incident and said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already filed a diplomatic protest.
“Yes, there’s still harassment. We disagree that they are being treated that way, but saan ba tayo nanggaling? Nanggaling tayo sa past admin na zero fishing, nanggaling tayo sa past administration na walang fishing, na pag nagsu-supply tayo sa Ayungin nagpapatintero tayo…” Cayetano said at the briefing.
The Foreign Affairs chief said other instances of harassment only involved China telling “us on the radio that this is Chinese territory, you are entering it. Sasagot naman tayo (And we will respond): Philippine territory.”
“Normal naman ‘yun (It’s normal) because it’s a disputed area,” he added. “We’re dealing with that, we filed a protest regarding that, we had a meeting. The President has strong instructions in the executive session. I would tell you more, but because we did it quietly we’re solving it,” he said.
But this explanation did not sit well with Alejano.
“As usual, the Duterte administration gives us the same general statements that they are discussing the matter and will be taking action, but the public is still being left in the dark,” he noted.
“If the Duterte administration wants the public to trust its approach in the West Philippine Sea, certain details meant for public consumption should be released. They cannot blame the public if there are doubts and low confidence on their words since what they are disclosing and what is happening on the ground are two different stories,” Alejano added.
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