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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Admiral among injured in water cannon attack

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The head of the military’s Western Command was injured as two China Coast Guard vessels used water cannons against the civilian supply ship Unaiza May 4 near Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on Tuesday.

Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said Thursday the incident left him with some cuts and bruises, while four other crew members were also injured as the windows of the supply ship were shattered during the water cannon attack.

Despite the incident, Carlos said the Philippines will continue its regular rotation and resupply (RoRe) missions to stationed troops on board the BRP Sierra Madre that was deliberately run aground on Ayungin Shoal to serve as an outpost of the Philippine Marines.

“The important thing is all personnel on UM4 are safe… despite having sustained minor injuries,” the three-star general said.

“They [troops on BRP Sierra Madre] will not run out of food, fuel, or water. Whatever it is they need, they will not run out, that I can assure you,” he added.

The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest over the two collisions, which President Marcos described as “dangerous maneuvers and dangerous actions.”

“We cannot view this in any way but in the most serious way,” the President said.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday called on Beijing to stop its aggression in Philippine waters.

He said China’s use of excessive force is against the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The South Korean Embassy said it was “deeply concerned about the dangerous situation caused by the collision between the Chinese and the Philippine vessels and use of water cannons against the Philippine vessels in the South China Sea.”

“The situation threatens the safety of crew members and raises tensions in the concerned waters,” it said on X.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs described China’s actions as “alarming.”

“Japan believes that the issue concerning the South China Sea is directly related to the peace and stability of the region and is a legitimate concern of the international community,” the ministry said.

Beijing, however, insisted it will “legitimately defend” its rights in the South China Sea, its foreign minister said Thursday.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea and has sought to assert sovereignty there despite competing claims from Southeast Asian nations and an international arbitration ruling that its stance has no legal basis.

“We will legitimately defend our rights in accordance with the law,” Beijing’s foreign minister Wang Yi said at a press conference.

“On maritime disputes, China has always maintained a high degree of restraint. But of course, we do not allow our goodwill to be abused, and we do not accept the distortion or deliberate infringement of maritime laws,” Wang said.

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