Philippine Navy Takes Action to Protect BRP Sierra Madre from Chinese Boats

BRP ‘Cabra’ at approximately 3.5NM east off Ayungin Shoal blocked by CCGV 21551 at approximately 20 yards dead ahead. PHOTO FROM THE PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD
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PHILIPPINE Navy personnel on rubber boats have been successfully driving away dozens of Chinese boats that were attempting to approach the BRP Sierra Madre inside the Ayungin Shoal. Western Command Chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos confirmed that sampans, traditional wooden Chinese boats, were maneuvering to get near the grounded Philippine Navy ship.

The Navy personnel are closely monitoring the movements of Chinese boats in the shallow waters of the shoal. They have been actively challenging Chinese militia vessels through radio messages, advising them to leave Ayungin.

“As we speak, our troops are being deployed repeatedly to ask the Chinese militia vessels to leave the shoal,” Vice Admiral Carlos stated. At least two to three Chinese militia vessels were spotted near Ayungin Shoal.

The deployment of rubber boats in Ayungin is part of the countermeasures against Chinese efforts to get closer to the Sierra Madre. Vice Admiral Carlos explained, “When we sighted them (Chinese boats) some 2,000 yards heading for Ayungin Shoal, we deployed our rubber boats purposely to intercept them halfway, forcing the Chinese to stop and decide not to proceed.”

In a non-confrontational manner, the Philippine Navy drove the Chinese boats away. They used hand gesture signals to dissuade them from getting any closer to Ayungin Shoal. Vice Admiral Carlos emphasized that all contingency measures, including possible course actions by the armed forces against potential enemies, are carefully planned.

Following last Sunday’s resupply mission to Ayungin, the number of Chinese vessels has significantly decreased from 40 to just nine. However, five other Chinese militia ships remain around the shoal, according to Vice Admiral Carlos.

The Ayungin Shoal has been a subject of territorial disputes between the Philippines and China. The BRP Sierra Madre, a Philippine Navy ship, has been grounded on the shoal since 1999, serving as a military outpost and symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the area.

Under international law, the Ayungin Shoal falls within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. However, China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including the shoal, based on its historical “nine-dash line” map.

The presence of Chinese boats near the Ayungin Shoal raises concerns about China’s intentions and actions in the disputed waters. The Philippine Navy’s efforts to drive away these boats demonstrate their commitment to protecting their territory and upholding international law.

It is crucial for countries in the region to respect the rights and sovereignty of each other, as well as engage in peaceful dialogue to resolve disputes. The ongoing presence of Chinese militia vessels near Ayungin Shoal highlights the need for continued vigilance and diplomatic efforts to maintain stability and peace in the South China Sea.

The Philippine Navy’s actions serve as a reminder that they are prepared to defend their territory and protect their interests. As tensions continue to simmer in the region, it is important for all parties involved to prioritize peaceful resolutions and adhere to international laws and norms.

The situation in the South China Sea remains complex and evolving. The presence of Chinese boats near Ayungin Shoal underscores the need for continued international attention and engagement to ensure the peaceful and lawful resolution of territorial disputes in the region.

Source: The Manila Times

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