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Saturday, July 13, 2024

NSC mulls aerial supply drops to Ayungin troops

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The Philippines will “adjust” its resupply efforts in the West Philippine Sea and explore the possibility of deploying aerial supply missions to troops at Ayungin Shoal, the National Security Council said yesterday.

President Marcos ordered for “certain adjustments” to be implemented in the resupply missions to troops stationed at the grounded BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal, NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said.

“There is an operational mix that is available to us. We can do other types of resupply other than a naval resupply. We can do an airdrop, we can do other just to be able to resupply our troops and keep BRP Sierra Madre in working condition,” Malaya said in an interview with ANC.

“Those adjustments, of course, are there so that we are no longer placed in a difficult position when we do our resupply missions,” he added.

The move came days after China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels water cannoned ships Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ships headed to Bajo de Masinloc.

Malaya said while he does not expect Beijing to stop using intimidation and “scare tactics” in the West Philippine Sea, Manila “will not be deterred” and “will do what is necessary to keep our troops supplied.”

“If the Chinese think that it’s going to fade into the sea any time soon, no it’s not. It is being maintained by the Philippine government…It’s not going anywhere,” he said.

For its part, the Department of Foreign Affairs denied the Philippines entered into a so-called “new model” agreement with China, saying no official from the Marcos administration had acted on its behalf in connection with the Ayungin Shoal issue.

“The DFA wishes to emphasize that only the President of the Republic of the Philippines can approve or authorize agreements entered into by the Philippine Government on matters pertaining to the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea,” the DFA said in a statement.

“In this respect, the DFA can confirm that no Cabinet-level official of the Marcos administration has agreed to any Chinese proposal pertaining to the Ayungin Shoal,” the department added.

According to the DFA, as far as the Philippine government is concerned, “no such document, record or deal exists, as purported by the Chinese Embassy.”

Malaya said Beijing’s claim was not worth investigating, describing it as a “trap of China.”

“The basis of this claim is simply the statement coming from the Chinese Embassy. We don’t even know who they talked to. All they say is they talked to Wescom (Western Command). The more that we enter into this narrative and react to their statements, the more that Chinese propaganda gains traction and that is against our interests,” he added.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila earlier said Wescom made an agreement with Beijing early this year on a so-called “new model” for managing the situation at the Ayungin Shoal.

It claimed the so-called “new model” was approved by the Philippine government, including the Department of National Defense, which denied the claim.

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