The Philippines has started “superficial repairs” to the World War II-era ship BRP Sierra Madre grounded at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
The repairs are means to make the ship more liveable for the dozen or so Marines and sailors in the offshore outpost that stands as a symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the disputed waterway, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
Materials for the repairs were being delivered to the dilapidated naval vessel, the AFP said in a GMA News report.
“It was sad to see the state of the living conditions. We’re trying to improve that by making sure they have at least decent sleeping facilities, decent dining facilities, and the internet,” AFP chief of staff General Romeo Brawner said.
“We can just do superficial repairs on it,” he added.
China has taken exception to the recent AFP rotational and resupply mission held two weeks ago, saying the Filipino ships illegally entered their territory without their permission and illegally delivered construction materials.
However, the AFP slammed Beijing’s remarks and said what the Philippines did to BRP Sierra Madre was “none of their business”.
The BRP Sierra Madre has been aground at the Ayungin Shoal since 1999 during the incumbency of then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.