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Saturday, December 2, 2023

AFP hits China Coast Guard ‘misplaced bullying’ in WPS

The presence of the China Coast Guard (CCG) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is “misplaced bullying” amid China’s continued aggression in the country’s territorial waters, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.

AFP spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar, in a forum, also cited the latest “harassment” of the CCG and Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) after Chinese vessels reportedly made dangerous maneuvers against Philippine ships in a recent resupply mission.

The AFP successfully resupplied its Marine contingent on the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea Friday but condemned “illegal” actions by Chinese vessels that interfered with the operation.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, which includes key Philippine government agencies, said it “strongly deplores and condemns the continued illegal, aggressive, and destabilizing conduct” of Chinese coast guard and “militia” vessels in the waters.

WPS CONCERNS. National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya (right) and Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela discuss ongoing concerns on the West Philippine Sea during a forum in Quezon City. Robert Gines

On Friday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) escorted supply vessels to Ayungin Shoal in the Spratly Islands, where a handful of Filipino Marines are stationed on a crumbling navy ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, the task force said.

While the mission was successful, the task force said it was informed that CCG and CMM vessels had carried out “harassment, dangerous maneuvers, and aggressive conduct” toward the Philippine boats.

Aguilar also said a Chinese rubber boat experienced bad fortune while tailing Philippine ships going to the Ayungin Shoal for the resupply mission as the rubber boat got entangled in a mooring line.

“One of their RHIBs (rigid hull inflatable boat) got entangled with the mooring line of a fishing boat that was near the BRP Sierra Madre,” Aguilar said.

The AFP spokesperson added that troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre offered to help, but “of course, China refused because they don’t want Filipinos to be helping them.”

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea meanwhile stressed that China has “no authority” to carry out any law enforcement operations inside the country’s exclusive economic zone, National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said.

China claimed that they were conducting law enforcement operations in the area when the Armed Forces of the Philippines and PCG ran its rotation and reprovision (RoRe) mission in the Philippines waters.

Malaya refuted China’s words, citing that the law enforcement operations within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are well within its sovereign rights and responsibilities.

“Law enforcement operations in the exclusive economic zone are within the purview of elements of the Philippine government – and that is why the Chinese Coast Guard’s statement is wrong,” Malaya stressed.

In the recently concluded 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Indonesia, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. asked world leaders to take action on the “dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea.

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