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

PALAWAN, Philippines — China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels fired water cannons anew “at least eight times” at Philippine civilian ships conducting a humanitarian mission for Filipino fishermen off Scarborough Shoal on Saturday morning, the National Task Force on West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said. China used its water cannons against the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerDec 10th, 2023

BRP Sierra Madre resupplied amid new CCG harassment

China attempted anew to block a Philippine resupply mission to the latter’s permanent outpost in the West Philippine Sea, the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal. The Armed Forces of the Philippines confirmed this yesterday, saying that Chinese ships conducted dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels conducting a third rotation and logistics run to the Sierra Madre. Nonetheless, the AFP Western Command and the Philippine Coast Guard successfully delivered fresh troops and supplies to the World War 2-era ship, according to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS). AFP spokesperson, Col. Medel Aguilar, said the government will remain firm in asserting the country’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Ayungin Shoal, it being part of its exclusive economic zone. “The unprofessional acts and dangerous maneuvers conducted by the China Coast Guard and its maritime militia will never prevail over our conduct of legal and legitimate operations that support a rules-based international order,” he added.   Nansha Islands China defended its attempt to intercept the Philippine vessels by saying the two replenishment ships and two PCG vessels entered waters adjacent to Ren’ai Reef in its so-called Nansha Islands. It claimed the PCG and AFP boats entered the area “without the permission of the Chinese government.” “The China Coast Guard strictly warned the Philippine vessels in accordance with the law, tracked and monitored the vessels all the way and effectively regulated them,” CCG spokesperson Gan Yu said in an interview. Yun averred that Beijing has “indisputable sovereignty” over the Nansha Islands, including Ren’ai Reef and its adjacent waters, and firmly opposes the illegal transportation of construction materials by the Philippines to the grounded warship. “The China Coast Guard will continue to carry out law enforcement activities in the sea areas under China’s jurisdiction according to the law,” Yu said. Yu’s comments earned a rebuke from the NTF-WPS, describing the CCG actions as illegal, aggressive, and destabilizing. It may be remembered that the CCG used a water cannon against a Sierra Madre resupply mission earlier. “We reiterate and reemphasize that these operations are pursuant to our government’s legitimate exercise of its administrative functions and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea, firmly anchored on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award,” the NTF-WPS said.   Humanitarian mission Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Senate is “constantly monitoring” developments in the WPS. “This is a humanitarian resupply mission. Only barbarians at the gate will delight in seeing soldiers on a peaceful mission denied food,” he said. “As long as the law and truth are on our side, illegal barriers to what is ours will continue to be pierced — by the sharp tip of world opinion that upholds our cause as just,” he added. He said the Senate is ready to assist the AFP and the PCG through their budgets for the coming fiscal year “with the aim of developing a credible self-defense posture that will allow them to continue protecting our country and our people.” The post BRP Sierra Madre resupplied amid new CCG harassment appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 8th, 2023

Dela Rosa on China ‘allowing’ resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal: ‘Who are they?’

The Philippines does not need China’s approval to operate within its territorial waters, particularly in the West Philippine Sea, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said. In a chance interview with reporters, Dela Rosa questioned China’s recent claims that the successful rotation and resupply mission of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin shoal was allowed only due to the Chinese’s “humanitarian consideration.” “Sino sila? Sino sila para mag-a-approve kung anong dadalhin natin doon para sa ating outpost, para sa ating mga sundalo doon sa outpost? Bakit nila tayo pigilan kung anong gusto nating dalhin? (Who are they? Who are they to approve our operation for our outpost, whatever we want to bring to our soldiers in our outpost? Why should they stop us from what we want to bring there?).” In a television interview, National Task Force for the WPS spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela denied China’s claims that it has extended humanitarian consideration to the Philippines. “That’s not true that they have allowed the path of the supply boasts to enter Ayungin shoal. Even the supply boast that we are using to deliver the supplies was blocked and intercepted by the Chinese Coast Guard vessels. So it’s not true, they are lying when they said that they are extending humanitarian consideration,” Tarriela stressed. Tarriela described the recent RoRe mission as “not a walk in the park” as China again threatened the Philippines with its usual aggressive tactics. CCG ships and other China militia vessels attempted to obstruct the Philippine resupply boats delivering fresh provisions to the military personnel stationed on BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal last 22 August. China vessels also reactivated their water cannons during the RoRe mission. AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said they are now looking into other strategies for the future resupply mission in the area. Meanwhile, Dela Rosa lamented that China’s recent blockage attempts against Philippine vessels serve as an “advancement of their own position.” “Gusto nila talaga na masira iyong barko nating Sierra Madre para ‘pag masira na ‘yan, magiba, wala na tayong matitirahan at sila na ang papalit sa atin, aagawin na nila ‘yan (They really want ship Sierra Madre to be totally destroyed so that they can positioned themselves when we will have no place to live and they will replace us, they will seize it),” he said. On the other hand, Senator Raffy Tulfo recommended to the AFP and the Department of the National Defense to allow the Philippine Coast Guard to conduct a joint military operation involving a resupply mission with the United States Navy to drive away the CCG trying to block the country’s sovereign rights over the WPS. The post Dela Rosa on China ‘allowing’ resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal: ‘Who are they?’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2023

Phl slams China’s ‘coercive, unlawful, unjustifiable’ acts in WPS

The Philippines on Monday maintained its territorial rights over the Ayungin Shoal, stressing that it would never leave the area amid the continued escalation of geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea. At a joint press conference, members of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the National Security Council and the Philippine Coast Guard condemned China’s recent use of water cannon and dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels that were en route to Ayungin Shoal for a routine troop rotation and resupply mission for the BRP Sierra Madre, the decommissioned ship grounded on the shoal to serve as an outpost for Philippine troops stationed on the shoal. “The Philippines condemns in the strongest terms the latest incident of harassment perpetrated by China Coast Guard, People’s Liberation Army Navy and Chinese maritime militia vessels, on August 5, against Philippine vessels, on a routine resupply mission in waters surrounding Ayungin Shoal, in the West Philippine Sea,” the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said. “The Philippines demands that China immediately stop its coercive, unlawful and unjustifiable activities in our maritime zones,” it added. Ayungin Shoal is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya asserted the Philippine government would keep its position in Ayungin Shoal through the BRP Sierra Madre. “For the record, we will never abandon Ayungin Shoal. We are committed to Ayungin Shoal,” Malaya said when asked about the Philippines’ next actions following the incident. “They’re probably looking for weaknesses in the Philippine position or are trying to gauge our commitment to supply our troops in the shoal, and we are here precisely to reassure the Filipino people that as directed by our President, we are consistent with the President’s directive during the SONA that we will not lose an inch of our territory,” he added. The BRP Sierra Madre is a World War 2 landing ship tank that has been stationed at the Ayungin Shoal since 1999. Asked how the government would maintain its presence in the Ayungin Shoal, AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said the government has heightened its assets in the area. “We have already increased the number of our assets in that area for the conduct of maritime patrols and of course, to do rotation and reprovision missions,” Aguilar said. “As to what we will do exactly, that we cannot tell you for security reasons,” he added. Diplomatic processes For its part, the DFA condemned China’s “aggressive” actions in Ayungin Shoal and called on China to stop its “illegal activities” in the country’s maritime zone. “The Department of Foreign Affairs is one with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard in their pursuit of our shared mandate to protect and uphold our legal maritime entitlements,” DFA spokesperson Tess Daza said. “The DFA is making full use of our diplomatic processes and is exercising all possible actions available to us, including the summoning of the Chinese ambassador over this incident,” she added. Daza noted that Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian was summoned by the DFA on Monday morning to convey the Philippine government’s strong protest against on the water cannon operation of the CCG and Chinese maritime militia vessels against Philippine indigenous boats conducting regular rotation and resupply and humanitarian missions to Ayungin Shoal. The DFA personally handed over Huang the note verbale of the Philippines for the 5 August incident. As of 7 August, the agency said the country has filed a total of 445 diplomatic protests in the past three years. For this year alone, the country has filed a total of 35 diplomatic protests. The Philippine government, through Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz, also handed the country’s diplomatic protest in Beijing over the incident. The DFA firmly asked China to direct its vessels to “stop” their “illegal actions” against Philippine vessels and to “stop interfering” in legitimate Philippine government activities. It also urged China to comply with its obligations under international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, the 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration, and the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, and adhere to its commitments under the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. According to the DFA, the incident “undermines efforts to strengthen mutual trust and confidence” between Manila and Beijing. “We value our relations with China and we hope that they too value the relations with the Philippines, but clearly, this incident undermines efforts to strengthen mutual trust and confidence – a crucial element in friendly relations among states,” Daza said. “It does provide tension in our bilateral relations,” she added. The post Phl slams China’s ‘coercive, unlawful, unjustifiable’ acts in WPS appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

‘Velarde map trumps China’s fabrication’

China’s new map expanding its nine-dash line territorial claim in the South China Sea is undermining the peace and security in the Asia-Pacific Region, geopolitical analyst Marlon Villarin told Daily Tribune’s sister publication Dyaryo Tirada over the weekend. Appearing in the digital show “Hot Patatas,” the University of Santo Tomas political science professor belittled Beijing’s new “standard map” for 2023 as a mere fabrication that would not stand scrutiny against the so-called Velarde map. The Velarde map is one of the oldest maps in the world, the one that the Philippines used to stake its territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. In 2016, the arbitral court affirmed that the Philippines holds rights over its exclusive economic zones in the WPS while dismissing China’s nine-dash line claim to nearly the entire South China Sea for being without legal or historical basis. “As things stand, they (Chinese) seemed to have fabricated (the nine-dash line claim). On the other hand, one of the oldest maps, the Velarde map, has helped us a lot,” Villarin told Tirada editor Rose Novenario. “It showed that it (WPS) is part of our territory.” [gallery size="full" ids="179079,179078,179076"]   Discredited original If China’s nine-dash line map had been set aside by the arbitral court, it follows that its 10-dash line claim also has no basis, it being an expanded version of the discredited original, other political analysts have posited. Drawn by Jesuit priest Father Pedro Murillo Velarde, the map was published in Manila in 1734 and was described as “the first and most important scientific map in the Philippines.” Titled “Mapa de Las Yslas Pilipinas Hecho Por el Pe. Pedro Murillo de Compa. De Jesus,” the drawing has been instrumental, along with 270 other documents, in refuting China’s claim that it owns nearly the entire SCS. The WPS overlaps with the bigger SCS, where Chinese vessels, including from its navy and coast guard, had been harassing Filipino fishermen and Philippine-flagged ships. Aside from the Philippines, India and Malaysia condemned China for expanding its claim in the South China Sea, where trillions of dollars’ worth of trade passes each year, through the new map. The United States has been conducting freedom of navigation air and sea patrols in the SCS to ensure the safe passage of commercial vessels in international waters, including those near the Taiwan Strait. [gallery size="full" ids="179082,179080,179077"]   Claimants The Philippines, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have separate claims in the South China Sea where China’s forces have been aggressively driving away other claimants. Months back, a China Coast Guard vessel used water cannon on Philippine Coast Guard-led ships resupplying the BRP Sierra Madre, a World War 2-era ship that ran aground in the Ayungin Shoal to serve as a permanent outpost for Filipino troops. Earlier, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año reiterated that the Philippine government does not recognize the 10-dash line or the nine-dash line claims of China. The new Chinese map showed 10 dashes forming the letter U showing nearly the entire South China Sea as a territory of China. Año stressed that the 2016 arbitral award was already final in debunking Beijing’s nine-dash line assertion. The ruling also gave the Philippines “maritime entitlement” extending its economic zone, territorial waters, and continental shelf.   UNCLOS “The recent inclusion by China of its 10-dash line in their map is a gross violation of the territorial integrity of the Philippines as protected by the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea,” Villarin said. “It’s an affront to the Philippine Constitution that safeguards the territorial integrity of our country. It is also a direct threat to the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific Region,” he added. Villarin stressed that nearly all of the countries in the region would be affected by China’s claim, especially if it tries to enforce its “invention.” He recounted that in the 470-plus decisions made by the arbitral court, all of China’s claims were dismissed for having no legal or historical legs to stand on. The post ‘Velarde map trumps China’s fabrication’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2023

Phl sovereign actions not subject to any country’s approval — DFA

The routine activities of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal are part of the Philippines’ rights as a sovereign nation, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday. According to DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza, the rotation and resupply missions carried out by the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone are not up for approval by any other countries. “The rotation and resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre are legitimate and routine activities in our EEZ,” Daza told Daily Tribune. “The Philippines’ exercise of its sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction within our maritime zones is not subject to any other country’s approval. This is the norm,” she added. She issued the statement a day after Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said that the root cause of the recent incident between the ships of the Chinese Coast Guard and the Philippine Coast Guard was the Philippines’ attempt to bring construction materials to the grounded warship in Ayungin Shoal. “What I want to emphasize is there has never been a problem with the delivery of humanitarian supplies because there is a special arrangement for such,” Xilian said. “The problem arose when the Philippines transported large-scale building materials,” he added. China claims the vast South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea. The 5 August incident in the Ayungin Shoal, where China used a water cannon and dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels while en route for a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre, sparked a word war between the foreign affairs ministries of both the Philippines and China. Many countries across the globe also condemned China’s aggressive actions toward Philippine ships. For her part, Daza did not confirm nor deny whether the Philippines attempted to bring construction materials to the already dilapidated BRP Sierra Madre. On Tuesday, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said that the latest resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre was successful. The post Phl sovereign actions not subject to any country’s approval — DFA appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2023

Latest resupply mission reaches Ayungin Shoal

The Philippines said a resupply mission had reached a remote outpost in the disputed South China Sea Tuesday, despite attempts by Chinese vessels to "block" the boats carrying provisions for Filipino marines. Two Philippine Coast Guard boats escorted two supply vessels to Second Thomas Shoal [Ayungin Shoal] in the Spratly Islands, where a handful of troops are stationed on a crumbling navy ship. They arrived just over two weeks after China Coast Guard ships blocked and fired water cannon at a resupply mission to the tiny garrison that prevented one of the boats from delivering its cargo. "The routine follow-on Rotation and Resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre was successfully conducted today," the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said in a statement. The task force accused China Coast Guard and "Chinese Maritime Militia" vessels of attempting to "block, harass, and interfere" with the mission. "Routine missions to Philippine outposts on various features in the West Philippine Sea will continue on a regular basis," it insisted. The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Philippines has outposts on nine reefs and islands in the Spratlys, including Second Thomas Shoal. The Philippine Navy deliberately grounded the World War II-era BRP Sierra Madre atop the shoal in 1999 to check China's advance in the waters. The troops stationed on the rusty ship depend on regular deliveries for their survival. Second Thomas Shoal is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan, and more than 1,000 kilometers from China's nearest major landmass, Hainan island. The water cannoning on 5 August fanned tensions between the countries, which have a long history of maritime disputes in the South China Sea. China claims almost the entire waterway, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, and has ignored an international ruling that its assertion has no legal basis. It deploys hundreds of vessels to patrol the South China Sea and swarm reefs. Its coast guard and navy ships routinely block or shadow Philippine boats in the contested waters, Manila has said. Beijing has defended its actions in the 5 August incident as "professional", and accused Manila of "illegal delivery of construction materials" to the grounded ship. The Philippines has insisted that Second Thomas Shoal is within its exclusive economic zone, and therefore its efforts to resupply troops and repair the BRP Sierra Madre are legitimate. The post Latest resupply mission reaches Ayungin Shoal appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2023

AFP to push another rotation, resupply mission for BRP Sierra Madre

The Armed Forces of the Philippines announced it will conduct another rotation and resupply (RoRe) mission to personnel stationed in the BRP Sierra Madre (LST-57) located in the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said the RoRe mission is part of the country’s strategic efforts to maintain a presence over its exclusive economic zone. “Despite the incident on August 5, where Philippine supply vessels were blocked, subjected to dangerous maneuvers and water cannon, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is duty-bound to ensure the well-being of its personnel on the BRP Sierra Madre,” Aguilar told reporters on Saturday. The government earlier condemned the aggressive action of the Chinese Coast Guard, including dangerous maneuvers and firing water cannon against the Philippine vessels last 5 August in Ayungin Shoal. Aguilar defended the AFP’s resupply mission saying the Philippines is only exercising its sovereign rights and jurisdiction under the rules-based International order. “Ayungin Shoal holds a strategic importance for the Philippines and is a fishing ground for our fishermen. Beyond its practical purpose, the RORE mission to the shoal is a clear demonstration of our resolve to stand up against threats and coercion and our commitment to upholding the Rule of Law,” he said. “This exercise of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction is a testament to our firm belief in the rules-based international order that underpins regional peace and stability,” Aguilar further stressed. The Philippines will continue to pursue its humanitarian undertaking and defend its rights to its own maritime zones, he said. “We also affirm our support for the peaceful settlement of disputes. We, therefore, call on all relevant parties to abide by their obligations under international law and respect the Philippines' sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over its maritime zones,” Aguilar said. The Department of Foreign Affairs said that this year alone, the Philippines have already filed 34 diplomatic protests against China due to their aggressive actions. The post AFP to push another rotation, resupply mission for BRP Sierra Madre appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2023

Locsin’s appointment as special China envoy lauded

Senators on Thursday welcomed the appointment of Teodoro Locsin Jr. as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s special envoy to China, amid the escalating tension in the West Philippine Sea. Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri commended Locsin’s appointment, whom he said is the “perfect” person for the job. “Being a former DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) secretary as well as the former ambassador to the United Nations, he has expertise and experience in dealing with China,” Zubiri said in a statement. “(H)e is extremely loyal to the cause of protecting the sovereignty of our country as proven by the hundreds of diplomatic protests that he personally filed on behalf of our country during the Duterte presidency,” he added. Locsin previously served as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs under the Duterte administration from 2018-2022. The Presidential Communications Office on Wednesday announced that Locsin will be the country’s special envoy to China weeks after the controversial actions of China against Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea. Locsin was earlier tapped by Marcos to be the country’s envoy to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland last year. Citing Locsin’s track record as a seasoned diplomat, legal expert, and accomplished legislator, Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito also expressed his support for his newest appointment. “Given his experience as Department of Foreign Affairs secretary, lawyer, and former legislator, I’m sure Ambassador Teddy Locsin could be the best one for the job as special envoy for special concerns,” he said. Ejercito noted that Locsin is the “most fitting candidate” for the role as “he is known as a troubleshooter during his DFA days.” “It is also a good timing as it is still important to keep lines open in the midst of the West Philippine Sea conflict,” he pointed out. ‘Interesting’ Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe described Marcos’ decision to tap Locsin as his special envoy to China as “impressive and interesting.” “He is an adroit diplomat and skilled leader, unafraid to go to whatever lengths necessary for the best interest of the Filipinos,” Poe said in a separate statement. “We hope he can help the country navigate through the rough waters of the West Philippine Sea to defend and protect what belongs to us,” she added. Locsin’s new role is considered crucial as the geopolitical tension between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea is at its new height. Earlier this month, various Philippine government officials condemned China’s use of water cannon and dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels while en route for a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. Since then, the word war between the two countries — mostly from their diplomatic officials — further aggravated the already tensed South China Sea. Without providing any documents, China urged the Philippines to honor its “commitment” to remove the dilapidated BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal, which had been grounded in the low tide elevation since 1999. Marcos had already denied the Philippine government made such a promise to China. “I’m not aware of any such arrangement or agreement that the Philippines will remove from its own territory its ship, in this case, the BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal,” Marcos said in a video message. He also asserted that he is rescinding any commitment should there be an agreement between the two countries to remove the vessel. “And let me go further, if there does exist such an agreement, I rescind that agreement now,” Marcos said.   The post Locsin’s appointment as special China envoy lauded appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 18th, 2023

U.S. must step up too

American analysts have been exploring the possible ways the West Philippine Sea conflict will play out primarily with the       so-called “gray zone” maneuvers by China in the disputed waters in which non-military activities are employed for coercion. The United States Institute of Peace, or USIP, a federal body tasked with promoting conflict resolution and prevention worldwide, is reviewing ways that Washington can play a role in de-escalating the tension in the region. The review was sparked by an act of aggression last week when a Chinese Coast Guard vessel deployed a water cannon to redirect an unarmed Philippine Navy supply boat. China blamed the incident on the Philippine government’s continued defiance of an earlier understanding to ban the delivery of construction materials to the beached BRP Sierra Madre navy vessel at Ayungin Shoal. Tensions have been on the rise since last year on China’s perception that Manila was moving closer to Washington, prompting a more aggressive assertion of its claim over most of the West Philippine Sea. “Given that Washington and Manila have a mutual defense treaty, there is credible concern that an incident like this could trigger a wider US-China conflict,” according to the USIP. Under a new Philippine administration, the formerly conciliatory approach the country had taken in its dispute with China has shifted. Instead, Brian Harding, USIP senior expert for Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands, said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has highlighted China’s efforts to swarm and intimidate fishing and coast guard vessels to take the bold move of deepening defense ties with the United States, bringing China-Philippines ties to a new low. Ayungin Shoal, the USIP expert said, has long been a likely candidate for the first showdown between the Philippines and China since Beijing took control of Scarborough Shoal in 2012. Former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio also identified the shoal, in a speech the other day, as one of five possible flashpoints that may lead to a deeper maritime conflict. In 1999, the Philippines intentionally beached a World War II naval vessel on a submerged reef, located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, and has since maintained a small contingent of Marines on board in extremely austere conditions. As a practical matter, in recent years China has turned a blind eye to the Philippines replenishing supplies for the Marines but has blocked the delivery of materials that could be used to repair the ship. USIP’s Andrew Scobell, a China expert, said the recent aggressive actions of a large China Coast Guard vessel on a tiny Filipino Navy supply boat was merely the latest episode in a decades-long campaign of intimidation and coercion by Beijing. Based on its insisted-on nine-dash line boundaries, Beijing claims the right to restrict access to ships from other countries to the South China Sea. “Many of (China’s) white-hulled ships are far larger, much better equipped, and more intimidating than the gray hull naval vessels possessed by most Southeast Asian states,” USIP said. China has persisted in its well-orchestrated campaign of low-intensity conflict, what is widely called “gray zone” actions, to forcefully advance its claims and aggressively push back against rivals. Carla Freeman, a senior USIP expert on China, said that beyond the effort to persuade and deter China, the US should engage in diplomacy to encourage allies and partners in the region to make clear to Beijing their own concerns about the risks to peace posed by confrontation. Regional allies have already issued statements criticizing China’s behavior, with Tokyo using unusually strong language to condemn China’s conduct, the USIP said. Like the Philippines’ position, the USIP said that Washington’s efforts in support of a binding code of conduct, or CoC, would be key to preventing conflict. The USIP, nonetheless, sees as a major obstacle toward progress in the United States itself since it is limited in its diplomatic capabilities after it failed to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Taking the high road in the simmering conflict, thus, would need both the US and China to review their positions of leadership to keep the stability in the region. The post U.S. must step up too appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 16th, 2023

‘NBN-ZTE, China’s first salvo’

Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Monday refuted a claim that it was his father, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who promised China the BRP Sierra Madre would be removed from Ayungin Shoal. Ejercito pointed out that it was his father who ordered in 1999 that the World War II-era ship be run aground to bolster the Philippines’ sovereignty claim to what was also called the Second Thomas Shoal. The senator was reacting to a former government official’s claim in an opinion piece in a national daily that it was Estrada who promised the Chinese the Sierra Madre would be removed. “That claim seems inconsistent. The mere fact that President Estrada was the one who ordered the BRP Sierra Madre be grounded on Ayungin Shoal, it’s impossible that he would commit to removing the same,” he told reporters in a Viber message. Ejercito also took a swipe at the ex-official in connection with a controversial project the administration he worked for entered into with China. “At least President Erap had the courage to fight for our sovereignty,” the senator said. “Unlike them who paved the way for the NBN-ZTE, the first salvo of Chinese intrusions in our country.” Estrada’s son to former actress Guia Gomez was referring to the canceled National Broadband Network project with ZTE Corp., a Chinese telecommunications firm. China continues to insist it has territorial rights over Ayungin Shoal, which is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, as affirmed by a 2016 arbitral ruling.   No such pledge After a China Coast Guard vessel used a water cannon in an attempt to drive away Philippine Coast Guard-led resupply boats headed to the BRP Sierra Madre last 5 August, Beijing claimed the Philippines had pledged to tow away the scuttled tank landing ship that serves as the Philippines’ outpost on Ayungin. In reaction, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he knew of no such promise by the Philippine government to remove the Sierra Madre, adding that if there was such a pledge made by a past administration, he was rescinding it. “Who was closer to China? Was it Erap? The VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) was in fact approved during his time,” Ejercito averred, referring to the military cooperation deal between the Philippines and the United States. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippines decided in 1999 to deploy the BRP Sierra Madre as a permanent station on Ayungin Shoal in response to China’s illegal occupation of Panganiban Reef in 1995. The deployment was years ahead, according to the DFA, of the conclusion in 2002 of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. “[It] is therefore not a violation of the DOC,” the DFA pointed out. The post ‘NBN-ZTE, China’s first salvo’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 14th, 2023

Beijing ‘repeatedly’ reached out to Manila on Ayungin Shoal issue — Chinese envoy

Beijing reached out to Manila to resolve the issue of Ayungi Shoal, which is currently hosting Filipino military personnel through the grounded BRP Sierra Madre, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines Zhou Zhiyong said Monday. According to Zhou, the Chinese side “repeatedly” reached out to its counterparts on the Philippine side to resolve the matter in a “peaceful” manner. “China has repeatedly expressed its willingness to resolve differences with the Philippines through bilateral dialogues,” he said in a media briefing in Quezon City. He noted that at the end of 2021, several rounds of discussion between the Philippines and China were held to manage the “disputes” over Ayungin Shoal, which they call Ren’ai Reef. "Such discussions have led to consensus on resupply missions to the Ren'ai Reef," he said, adding that the agreement had successfully guaranteed stability and tranquility in the area for the entire previous year. “Unfortunately, beginning early this year, the Philippine Government refused to acknowledge and implement the existing consensus and started to take a series of unilateral actions,” he said. “Despite this, the Chinese side suggested earlier this year that the two sides shall discuss measures to strengthen the management of the situation of Ren’ai Reef as early as possible to ensure peace and tranquility in the relevant waters,” he added. He continued: “We also provided the Philippine side with a draft proposal. We are still waiting for the formal response from the Philippine side.” Zhou also maintained that the Philippine government had repeatedly “promised” to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal. “On May 9th 1999, the Philippine Navy tank-landing ship LT-57 intruded into Ren’ai Reef and illegally ‘grounded’, citing the excuse of dilapidation and being stranded or distressed,” he said. “The Chinese side lodged solemn representations immediately, requesting the Philippine side to tow the vessel away. The Philippine side also made an explicit commitment to do so,” he added. “The representations were put on record and the details were well documented. Regarding this, the Philippine media made extensive coverage then.” Last week, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. denied that the Philippine government made such a promise to China. “I’m not aware of any such arrangement or agreement that the Philippines will remove from its own territory its ship, in this case, the BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal,” Marcos said in a video message. He also asserted that he is rescinding any commitment should there be an agreement between the two countries to remove the vessel. "And let me go further, if there does exist such an agreement, I rescind that agreement now,” Marcos said. ‘Construction materials’ Zhou also defended the Chinese Coast Guard’s actions during its confrontation with vessels of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard near Ayungin Shoal last 5 August. He stressed that despite the Philippine government’s failure to honor its alleged commitment, the Chinese side has “always exerted the utmost restraint with a view to maintaining relations with the Philippines and safeguarding regional peace and stability.” “Furthermore, out of humanitarian consideration, the Chinese side has made temporary and special arrangements for the Philippine resupply missions to bring to the ‘grounded’ military vessel food and other daily necessities,” he said. “In those 24 years, the Philippine side has not encountered problems with such humanitarian resupply,” he added. He pointed out that the Philippine move to transport construction materials to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre was the cause of the 5 August incident. “Under such circumstances, the Chinese side was made to react with the necessary actions. China Coast Guard took warning law-enforcement measures and stopped the vessel carrying construction materials,” he said. “I believe you have also noticed that the other Philippine resupply vessel entered the lagoon of Ren’ai Reef and performed its humanitarian resupply mission. This showed the restraint and humanitarian spirit of the Chinese side,” he added. The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, condemned China’s actions, which included the use of water cannon and dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels. The agency reiterated that the routine resupply mission of the Philippine Navy was a legitimate and regular activity of the Philippine government. Likewise, the Philippine government said China’s actions were in violation of the relevant provisions of the 1982 UNCLOS, the Award on the 2016 South China Sea Arbitration, the 1972 COLREGS and the 2002 ASEAN-China DOC. The post Beijing ‘repeatedly’ reached out to Manila on Ayungin Shoal issue — Chinese envoy appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 14th, 2023

Brawner: Water cannons are for saving lives

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan — Philippine ships, like those of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, are also equipped with water cannons but they are intended to save lives and not to attack other ships. Thus said AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner in a press conference here, during which he said the Philippines would continue carrying out rotation of troops and resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. “Water cannons (of the AFP) are being used only to save lives,” Brawner pointed out, as he assured that the AFP will “defend and protect” the people of Palawan and troops under the Western Command. He was referring to an incident last week when a China Coast Guard vessel trained its water cannon on ships carrying supply and fresh Philippine troops to the World War 2-era ship intentionally ran aground in the area. The AFP chief emphasized that the BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned ship of the Philippine Navy, thus “it is the duty and obligation of the country” to resupply the troops stationed in the vessel. “So they don’t have the right to hold us back or tell us what to do in there. We are operating, in fact, within our exclusive economic zone, so we will continue to conduct resupply operations,” he added. Following the water cannon incident, Brawner said the AFP would be deploying more Filipino vessels in the area. “Yes, definitely, we have plans to deploy more ships and even our aircraft to monitor our exclusive economic zone. We have to establish our presence in the area,” he pointed out. However, Brawner admitted that the Philippines has fewer ships than China, and so the AFP is pushing for the acquisition of more vessels, including a submarine. In the same press conference, AFP Western Command Chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos reported more than 400 foreign fishing vessels are currently within the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippines Sea, with 85 percent of these monitored vessels in the WPS likely being Chinese fishing ships. The post Brawner: Water cannons are for saving lives appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2023

 Phl ‘promise’ to tow away BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin, not under my Pa’s term – Ejercito

Senator Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito on Thursday asserted that it was not his father, former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada, who allegedly promised China that the Philippines would remove the BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal. “It was former President Joseph Estrada who ordered that BRP Sierra Madre be placed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 as a symbol of our sovereignty and to mark our territory,” Ejercito said in a statement. “I cannot recall such a commitment from the Philippine government to remove the Sierra Madre,” he added. Over the weekend, China claimed that the Philippines had promised to tow away the grounded BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal. "The Philippine side has repeatedly made clear promises to tow away the warship illegally 'stranded' on the reef," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. In a separate statement, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines further supports Beijing's claim that the Philippines promised to tow away the vessel several times. “For instance, in November 1999, the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines met with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Domingo Siazon and Chief of the Presidential Management Staff Leonora de Jesus to make another round of representations. Many times the Philippines promised to tow away the vessel, but it has taken no action,” the embassy said. “In September 2003, upon the news that the Philippines was preparing to build facilities around that military vessel illegally run aground at Ren'ai Jiao, China lodged immediate representations. The Philippine Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs Franklin Ebdalin responded that the Philippines had no intention to construct facilities on Ren'ai Jiao and that, as a signatory to the DOC, the Philippines had no desire to and would not be the first to violate the Declaration,” it added. On Wednesday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. denied that the Philippine government made such a promise to China. “I’m not aware of any such arrangement or agreement that the Philippines will remove from its own territory its ship, in this case, the BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal,” Marcos said in a video message. He also asserted that he is rescinding any commitment should there be an agreement between the two countries to remove the vessel. "And let me go further, if there does exist such an agreement, I rescind that agreement now,” Marcos said. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippines decided in 1999 to deploy the BRP Sierra Madre as a permanent station on Ayungin Shoal in response to China’s illegal occupation of Panganiban Reef in 1995. “The deployment of a Philippine military station in its own areas of jurisdiction is an inherent right of the Philippines and does not violate any laws,” it added. The agency also explained that the Philippine station on Ayungin Shoal was deployed in 1999, years ahead of the conclusion in 2002 of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. “[It] is therefore not a violation of the DOC,” it pointed out. The DFA also reiterated that China Coast Guard’s actions on 5 August which includes the use of water cannon and dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels were in violation of the relevant provisions of the 1982 UNCLOS, the Award on the 2016 South China Sea Arbitration, the 1972 COLREGS, and the 2002 ASEAN-China DOC. “The 2016 Arbitral Award is based on UNCLOS and affirms UNCLOS. It is final, legal and binding,” the agency said. The post  Phl ‘promise’ to tow away BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin, not under my Pa’s term – Ejercito appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 10th, 2023

Gray zone heats up (1)

Security experts believe that what is playing out in the West Philippine Sea is the product of a well-laid-out program of China to challenge the United States’ Pacific presence under a gray zone scenario. Last 5 August, a China Coast Guard vessel blasted its water cannon at a Philippine resupply mission to the disputed Ayungin or Second Thomas Shoal. The Philippines sent a protest note but China merely reiterated its demand for the removal of the grounded warship BRP Sierra Madre which stands as a small marine base on the shoal. China knows the United States would not act immediately as it does not consider the water cannon incident or China’s gray zone tactics to be armed attacks against the Philippines. As a result, the incidents did not trigger the US defense commitment under the Mutual Defense Treaty. The gray zone tactics intensified after the expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA, with the US. Washington’s timid reaction to the incident could embolden China to conduct more assertive maritime action. On 6 February, the Chinese coast guard flashed a military-grade laser at a Philippine vessel, causing temporary blindness to its crew. Raymond Powell, a 35-year veteran of the US Air Force who retired in 2021, has proposed measures to counter Beijing’s “gray zone” tactics. Powell now runs Project Myoushu which is part of Stanford University’s Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation. “What makes the South China Sea a hotbed of gray zone activity is that most of what happens there happens outside the public eye,” Powell said. If China, for example, harasses a Filipino fisherman or points a laser at a Philippine Coast Guard ship, it can reason “That didn’t actually happen, you’re making that up; how do you know it was us?” Powell said the Philippines correctly countered such denials by releasing photos and videos of the incidents. He said China started to evolve its military strategy after the Scarborough Shoal incident in 2012, “where they essentially took the shoal from the Philippines and then started their island-building campaign, where we saw them turn reefs and rocks into islands and military bases and station Navy and Coast Guard militia ships at those places.” China began patrolling around those places in a way that expanded the assertion of their sovereignty. Now that China has these bases, Powell said the Asian giant can project power outward in a way that it is very much more about the water, and who has a presence there. It became a game of who has an actual military or paramilitary force that can push forward into the exclusive economic zones and take possession, either physically “by rafting a whole bunch of malicious ships together or just by patrolling.” Even patrolling is a gray zone activity since the presence of a China Coast Guard ship in Malaysia’s oil and gas activities is an assertion of jurisdiction. It is saying, “We have sovereign rights over your exclusive economic zone because it falls within our nine-dash line.” Its coast guard and the maritime militia have become China’s instruments of power projection. Its maritime militia’s activities are very much a gray zone because they’re very deniable. They can say, “Well, they’re fishing vessels.” But they don’t fish, Powell said. They exist to patrol or simply to lay claim by their sheer presence in an area. (To be continued) The post Gray zone heats up (1) appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 9th, 2023

Heinous crime on high seas

The West Philippine Sea has been a longstanding flashpoint in Southeast Asia due to the competing territorial claims between China and the Philippines. Amid the territorial dispute, a concerning incident occurred when China’s Coast Guard again fired a water cannon at a Philippine vessel on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal. Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, is an atoll located in the Spratly Islands chain in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines claims Ayungin Shoal as part of its exclusive economic zone or EEZ, while China asserts its historical rights over the entire South China Sea, including areas claimed by neighboring countries. This is not the first time the Chinese Coast Guard committed provocative acts against Philippine vessels. Earlier, on March 2021, when the Philippine Coast Guard attempted to deliver supplies and rotate personnel stationed on the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal, the China Coast Guard intercepted the Philippine vessel and used water cannons to deter the resupply mission. The Sierra Madre is a scuttled, rusted Philippine Navy ship that serves as the country’s outpost on Ayungin. The firing of water cannons on Philippine vessels underscores the increasing tension in the West Philippine Sea. Such provocative acts heighten the risk of a clash between the two countries’ naval forces, which would surely lead to further instability in the region. With other claimant states, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, having their own territorial disputes with China, any escalation of hostilities could have far-reaching consequences for regional stability and peace. The latest water cannon incident further strains Philippines-China relations, which have been marred by territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea for years. The Philippines has consistently sought a peaceful resolution through diplomatic means and in adherence to international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. However, China’s assertive actions, including the deployment of its Coast Guard and maritime militia in the disputed waters, have challenged these efforts. The incident at Ayungin Shoal adds to the mistrust and animosity between the two countries, making the prospect of diplomatic negotiations more challenging. It also raises concerns among Filipinos about their country’s ability to protect its sovereignty and maritime rights in the face of China’s growing assertiveness in the region. The Ayungin Shoal incident is just one of many incidents that have contributed to the complexities of the West Philippine Sea dispute. China’s expansive claims and island-building activities in the area have raised concerns among other claimant states and the international community. The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s landmark ruling in 2016, which invalidated China’s “nine-dash line” claim and affirmed the Philippines’ sovereign rights within its EEZ, has not deterred China’s actions. China’s militarization of artificial islands and imposition of fishing restrictions further intensified tensions and escalated the territorial dispute. The water cannon incident reflects a broader pattern of behavior, where China uses its military and paramilitary forces to assert dominance and control over contested waters, challenging the norms of international law and UNCLOS. To achieve lasting peace and stability, it is crucial for all parties involved to uphold the principles of international law, including UNCLOS, and engage in diplomatic negotiations in good faith. Moreover, regional and international cooperation is essential to addressing the complexities of the West Philippine Sea dispute and promoting a peaceful resolution that will respect the rights and interests of all claimant states. Only through constructive dialogue and adherence to established norms can the countries in the region find a way to coexist peacefully and ensure the sustainable management of the West Philippine Sea’s resources for the benefit of all stakeholders. **** E-mail: mannyangeles27@gmail.com The post Heinous crime on high seas appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 9th, 2023

‘We will never abandon Ayungin Shoal’

The Philippines on Monday maintained its territorial rights over the Ayungin Shoal, stressing that it would never leave the area amid the continued escalation of geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea. At a joint press conference, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea composed of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Security Council and Philippine Coast Guard condemned China’s recent use of a water cannon and dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels that were en route to Ayungin Shoal for a routine troop rotation and resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre that is grounded on the shoal and serves as the Philippines’ outpost. “The Philippines condemns in the strongest terms the latest incident of harassment perpetrated by the China Coast Guard, People’s Liberation Army Navy, and Chinese maritime militia vessels on 5 August against Philippine vessels on a routine resupply mission in waters surrounding Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea,” the NTF-WPS said. “The Philippines demands that China immediately stop its coercive, unlawful, and unjustifiable activities in our maritime zones,” it added. Ayungin Shoal is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. NSC Assistant Director Jonathan Malaya asserted the Philippine government would keep its position in Ayungin Shoal through the BRP Sierra Madre. “For the record, we will never abandon Ayungin Shoal. We are committed to Ayungin Shoal,” Malaya said when asked what the Philippines’ next actions will be following the incident. “They’re probably looking for weaknesses in the Philippine position or are trying to gauge our commitment to supply our troops in the shoal, and we are here precisely to reassure the Filipino people that as directed by our President, we are consistent with the President’s directive during the SoNA that we will not lose an inch of our territory,” he added. The BRP Sierra Madre was a World War II landing ship tank that was stationed at  Ayungin Shoal since 1999. Asked how the government would maintain its presence at Ayungin Shoal, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said the government has increased its assets in the area. “We have  increased the number of our assets in that area for the conduct of maritime patrols and, of course, to do ro-re (rotation and reprovision) missions,” Aguilar said. “As to what we will do exactly that we cannot tell you for security reasons,” he added. The post ‘We will never abandon Ayungin Shoal’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

Phl summons China ambassador over water cannoning of boats

Manila summoned Beijing's envoy on Monday after the China Coast Guard blocked and water cannoned Philippine vessels in the disputed South China Sea, President Ferdinand Marcos said. The incident happened Saturday as the Philippine Coast Guard escorted charter boats carrying food, water, fuel and other supplies to Filipino military personnel stationed at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands. Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, and has ignored a 2016 international court ruling that its assertion has no legal basis. The Philippine military and coast guard have accused the China Coast Guard of breaking international law by blocking and firing water cannon at the resupply mission, preventing one of the charter boats from reaching the shoal. Another charter boat successfully unloaded its cargo. "Our Secretary of Foreign Affairs summoned Ambassador Huang (Xilian) today and gave him a note verbale including pictures, video about what happened, and we are awaiting their reply," Marcos told reporters. "The position of China, of course, is they say 'this is ours so we are defending it', and we, for our part, are saying 'no, we own it so we are defending it'. So that becomes a grey area that we are discussing." China maintained over the weekend that it had taken "necessary controls" against Philippine boats that "illegally" entered its waters. The US State Department on Sunday condemned the Chinese actions, saying they directly threatened regional peace and stability. Britain, Australia, Canada and the European Union also criticized Beijing's conduct. Second Thomas Shoal is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the Philippine island of Palawan, and more than 1,000 kilometers from China's nearest major landmass, Hainan island. China's coast guard and navy vessels routinely block or shadow Philippine ships patrolling the contested waters, Manila says. The Philippines has issued more than 400 diplomatic protests to Beijing since 2020 over its "illegal activities" in the South China Sea, the foreign ministry said. China appeared to be "trying to gauge our commitment to supply our troops" at the shoal, National Security Council spokesman Jonathan Malaya told reporters on Monday. "For the record, we will never abandon Ayungin Shoal," Malaya added, using the Philippine name for Second Thomas Shoal, located in the Spratly Islands. 'David and Goliath' Malaya said Saturday's "David and Goliath" incident showed the Chinese had established what appeared to be a "blockade" of the shoal. "There were only two (Philippine) coast guard vessels and two Philippine supply boats against six large Chinese coast guard vessels and two Chinese militia vessels, and more People's Liberation Army naval vessels at near proximity to the area," he said. Malaya said he believed it was the largest Chinese presence at the shoal "in recent memory". At one point, a China Coast Guard vessel came "within 20 yards (18 meters)" of a Philippine coast guard boat, which he said could have resulted in a collision. The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, which includes representatives of various government agencies, condemned the Chinese actions "in the strongest terms". "As a low tide elevation, Ayungin shoal can neither be the subject of a sovereignty claim nor is it capable of appropriation under international law," the task force said in a statement. Second Thomas Shoal was part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, and the resupply and upkeep of the BRP Sierra Madre were "legitimate Philippine government activities", it added. The Philippine military deliberately grounded the Sierra Madre on Second Thomas Shoal in the late 1990s, and keeps up a tiny garrison there to maintain a presence in the hotly contested waters. In a statement on Monday, the Chinese coast guard urged Manila to "tow away" the ship and "restore the reef to its original state". Manila and Beijing have a long history of maritime disputes over the South China Sea, but former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte was seen as cozying up to China in the hope of attracting investment. Since succeeding him, however, Marcos has insisted he will not let China trample on his country's maritime rights, seeking to strengthen defense ties with former colonial ruler and longtime ally the United States. The post Phl summons China ambassador over water cannoning of boats appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

Rodriguez: Downgrade Phl embassy in Beijing over China ‘bullying’

Lawyer-lawmaker Rufus Rodriguez, a staunch critic of China’s encroachment and aggressive activities in the West Philippine Sea, prodded President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday to take “more drastic” actions against China's latest "harassment" on Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy vessels. “We cannot allow these harassment and bullying tactics and encroachment on our maritime territory to continue. We have to take more drastic actions instead of filing the usual diplomatic protest note,” Rodriguez stressed. His remark was set off Beijing's most recent bullying action, when Chinese Coast Guard fired water cannons at Philippine vessels heading to Ayungin Shoal in the WPS. The vessels were resupplying a platoon of Filipino soldiers stationed on a rusting Navy ship on the shoal off Palawan. Rodriguez disclosed that he had already asked the President to downgrade the Philippine embassy in Beijing to show "deep indignation, anger and protest" over the water cannon blast. “The President should also order our unusually quiet and inactive ambassador there to return to Manila and to replace him with a lower-level diplomatic officer,” remarked the Cagayan solon. A resolution, which would “effectively shrink" the Philippines' ties with Beijing, is set to be filed at the House of Representatives, according to Rodriguez. Philippines allies Canada, Japan, Australia and the United States denounced Beijing's use of water cannons on Philippine vessels last Saturday. Earlier, the PCG said it strongly condemned the CCG's "dangerous maneuvers and illegal use of water cannons against PCG vessels." The post Rodriguez: Downgrade Phl embassy in Beijing over China ‘bullying’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

Phl protests China’s latest water cannon aggression

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said the Philippine government sent a note verbale to China after a Chinese coast guard vessel used water cannon on an indigenous boat on a supply mission to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. In an interview with the media following the command conference in Bulacan, Marcos said the note verbale included the pictures and videos of the incident. "We continue to assert our sovereignty and territorial rights in the face of all of these challenges and consistent with the international laws and UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), especially," Marcos said. He said the Philippines would also continue to communicate with the Chinese government to try to resolve the issue. "Of course, China's position is that they say, 'We own this; that's why we are defending it.' On our side, we say, 'No, this is ours; that's why we are also defending it.' That's why there's a gray area being discussed now," Marcos said. The incident at Ayungin Shoal is the latest in a series of Chinese provocations in the West Philippine Sea. In recent months, Chinese coast guard vessels have been seen harassing Philippine fishing boats and blockading resupply missions to Philippine military outposts in the area. The Philippines has repeatedly called on China to respect its sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea. However, China has refused to recognize the Philippines' claims to the area. The Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that the Philippines has so far filed 444 diplomatic protests against China regarding its activities in the West Philippine Sea since 2020. Out of this number, Manila has so far filed 34 diplomatic protests against Beijing this year. The United States, Australia, Japan and Canada have expressed their backing for Manila and criticized the actions of China. A Philippine Naval ship called the BRP Sierra Madre has been intentionally grounded at Ayungin Shoal since 1999. The shoal is located at a distance of 105.77 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine province, Palawan. It is a component of the country's 200-nautical mile continental shelf, as stipulated by the UNCLOS. The post Phl protests China’s latest water cannon aggression appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

Senators blast China’s use of water cannon vs. Philippine vessels in Ayungin Shoal

Senators on Sunday condemned the "excessive and offensive" actions of Chinese Coast Guard vessels against Philippine vessels near the Ayungin Shoal last Friday. Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri called the People’s Republic of China’s actions “reaffirms the merit of the resolution the Senate has unanimously passed.” The incident, which took place on 5 August near the Ayungin Shoal, happened barely a week after the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution denouncing China's intrusion into the West Philippine Sea and its harassment of Filipino fishermen. “Because China contemptuously ignores protests, all the more that we have to rally the world to condemn acts which have no place in a civilized order,” Zubiri said in a statement. In a statement issued on Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guards accused the CCG of using water cannon against its vessels while en route to the Ayungin Shoal for a routine troop rotation and resupply mission. Ayungin Shoal is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. In a separate statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines also condemned China’s latest actions in the WPS, which it described as “excessive and offensive.” Zubiri said China’s actions are “yet again a manifestation of its ‘might vs. right’ treatment of its peaceful neighbors.” “By its actions, it shows diplomatic duplicity, of preaching about amity, but practicing hostile behavior,” he said. “We want to have friendship with you but why is it difficult to love you, China?” Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros echoed the same sentiments against China, saying China has no right to block the Philippine vessels in its own territory. “The Chinese Coast Guard has absolutely no right to block, let alone water cannon, our supply vessels. They do not have any right to starve Filipinos in the Ayungin Shoal,” Hontiveros said in a separate statement. “China’s repeated provocations are in complete violation of UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award. I call on our regional neighbors and the broader international community to join the Philippines in condemning this dangerous behavior,” she added. In a bid to strengthen the country’s position in the Ayungin Shoal, the Philippine government permanently supplies its forces there through the BRP Sierra Madre. The BRP Sierra Madre was a World War 2 landing ship tank that was stationed at the Ayungin Shoal since 1999. Hontiveros said she is hoping that the Philippines could soon start joint patrols with other claimant countries in the South China Sea such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. “We need to cooperate with them to halt these aggressive actions of China,” she said. “I am also hoping that the DFA is now formulating steps to raise China’s endless incursions to different international fora.” “The recently adopted Senate resolution 718, with its precision and specific recommendations, is at their disposal,” she added. Senate Resolution 718 urges the Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, to “continue asserting” the country’s sovereign rights over its exclusive economic rights. 'Heed Senate’s call' For his part, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito called on the national government to heed the Senate’s resolution which contains several recommendations for the executive department. “We cannot let this slip. This is too much already! China is very frustrating! China’s hostile actions towards our Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and fishermen are extreme. Our territory, security, and peace are at stake here,” he said in a separate statement. “I urge the national government to heed the Senate's recent resolution on China's aggression and take decisive measures to safeguard our territorial integrity,” he added. Ejercito continued: “These measures will require us to expedite the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and strengthen our defense cooperation program and pacts with our allies.” For Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, China’s actions against PCG in the WPS require a strong stance from the Philippine government. “This is the reason why the Senate adopted Resolution No. 79 strongly condemning incursions like this,” Villanueva said. “Your Senate is always ready to fight for and protect the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights.” Like Ejercito, Villanueva reminded the executive department of the newly adopted resolution which contains a guide for the DFA. “We urge the Department of Foreign Affairs to implement the courses of action stipulated in the resolution passed by the Senate to finally put an end into this harassment and bullying by China,” he said. Under the resolution, the DFA is “expected” to continue holding dialogues with the Chinese government to push for recognition and respect of the Philippines' sovereign rights over its EEZ and pursue the formulation of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea based on international law and the UNCLOS. Should China continue to ignore the country’s efforts, the resolution contains actions the agency must do such as bringing international attention to China's harassment of Filipino fishermen in the Philippine EEZ and its continued violation of the Hague Ruling and the UNCLOS; utilizing international fora to rally multilateral support for the enforcement of the Hague Ruling and raise awareness on the real situation in the West Philippine Sea; and engaging with “like-minded” countries to call on China to respect the Hague Ruling and the UNCLOS. The DFA is also encouraged to file a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly, to call for the cessation of all activities that harass Philippine vessels and violate the Philippines' established rights in the West Philippine Sea; and pursue other diplomatic modes as the agency may deem appropriate and necessary. ‘Sensible plans' For his part, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged the PCG to come up with sensible plans to overcome China’s increasingly aggressive actions towards Philippine vessels that are on a re-supply mission to the Ayungin Shoal. “The PCG should overcome the CCG on our re-supply missions. They should come up with sensible plans behind closed doors,” Pimentel said in a separate statement. Asked if the recent actions of China against Philippine vessels could trigger the activation of the mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States, Pimentel said: “Use diplomacy and intelligent tactics.” “The MDT should not be invoked lightly. Use our ‘kokote’ not the MDT,” he added. In a separate statement, the US State Department warned that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces—including those of its Coast Guard in South China The post Senators blast China’s use of water cannon vs. Philippine vessels in Ayungin Shoal appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 6th, 2023