China will not interfere with the resupply mission to Filipino troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sunday, citing an assurance from China's ambassador to Manila.
In a message sent to reporters, Lonrenzana confirmed Western Command chief Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez's comments that the resupply will proceed in accordance with his orders.
Lorenzana added that the supply boats would not be escorted by Coast Guard or Navy vessels because the Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian, with whom he had been in talks since Nov. 20, said China would not interfere.
Asked to comment on Chinese claims that their coast guard vessels water cannoned the Philippine boats because they were trespassing, Lorenzana said it was China that had violated the country's sovereign rights inside the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
"They are the one’s violating our sovereign rights within our EEZ,” Lorenzana said.
“Our EEZ was granted to the Philippines (by) the 1982 UNCLOS which, by the way, was ratified by China. Therefore, they have no right to impede, prevent or harass our ships within our EEZ whether we are fishing or bringing supplies to our detachment in the Sierra Madre in Ayungin shoal," Lorenzana said.
The Western Command earlier reported that three Chinese Coast Guard vessels “blocked and water cannoned” two Philippine supply boats or "bancas" on Nov. 6.
No one was hurt but the Philippine vessels, which were identified as Unaiza Mae 1 and 3, had to abort their mission after one of them had its outrigger damaged by the water cannon.
On Friday, Malacañang said the government will not abandon the Filipino troops serving as a detachment at the Ayungin Shoal.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, acting Palace spokesperson, said despite its mended ties with China, the Philippines would continue to assert its sovereign rights over its territories, including the Ayungin Shoal.
Six countries have expressed support for the Philippines as they condemned the Chinese blockade and water cannon attack on Philippine resupply boats at the Ayungin Shoal.
The German and French embassies in Manila expressed "serious concerns" on the latest Ayungin incident involving three Chinese Coast Guard ships that blocked and fired water cannons on two Filipino boats.
"Germany and France share serious concerns on the latest incident caused by three Chinese vessels against two Philippine supply boats in the South China Sea. We call to refrain from conduct that endangers stability in the Indo-Pacific," German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel said Saturday night.
"(We) firmly support dialogue between stakeholders, on the basis of international law," she added.
The statement was tweeted separately by the German envoy and French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz.
Meanwhile, the Australian Embassy in Manila also asserted the 2016 arbitral ruling in the South China Sea and expressed solidarity with Manila.
"Australia has consistently expressed support for UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award and an open and inclusive region," Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson AO said Saturday.
"We continue to work with and support our Philippines partners on maritime issues and are concerned with recent destabilizing incidents in the South China Sea," he added.
In a tweet on Sunday, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Peter MacArthur said Canada stands by United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 South China Sea Arbitration decision, which affirmed Manila's claims over parts of South China Sea.
The ruling by the international tribunal also invalidated China's sweeping claims over nearly the entire sea.
Earlier, the United States and Japanese governments also raised their concerns and called for South China Sea parties to adhere to international law.
In a press conference hours after the Philippine side publicly protested Beijing's actions in the Ayungin last Nov. 18, Chinese Foreign Minister Zhao Lijian said the two nations are "in communication" on the issue.