West Philippine Sea

Marcos refutes China, denies ‘agreement’ to remove Ayungin ship

Bea Cupin

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Marcos refutes China, denies ‘agreement’ to remove Ayungin ship

LAUNCH. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday, June 29, 2023, led the launch of the 'Kanegosyo Center' in Pasay City.


'If there does exist such an agreement, I rescind that agreement as of now,' says President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. refuted China on Wednesday, August 9, and denied any agreement to remove the Philippine ship BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

“I’m not aware of any such arrangement or agreement that the Philippines will remove from its own territory its ship, in this case, the BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal,” Marcos said in a video released by Malacañang. 

In one of the most stinging statements of a Philippine leader against China in recent years, Marcos added, “If there does exist such an agreement, I rescind that agreement as of now.”

The President was responding to China’s claims that the Philippines previously promised to remove the warship, which serves as its outpost in the resource-rich waters. 

National Security Council Assistant Director-General Jonathan Malaya had previous called China’s assertion a “figment of their imagination.” 

Speaking before a new forum earlier on Wednesday, Malaya posited that if an agreement had been made, it could only have been between “lower level” officials. He challenged China to produce proof that such an agreement was made. 

China’s claims follow an August 5 incident where Chinese Coast Guard and militia vessels harassed and pointed water cannons towards Philippine ships en route to the BRP Sierra Madre for a routine resupply mission. 

After the Philippines and its allies – the US, the European Union, Japan, and Austalia, among others – criticized China for their actions, the Asian superpower insisted their actions were justified. China claims Ayungin Shoal as its own, despite a 2016 arbitral ruling that that the shoal is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. 

China has been calling on the Philippines to remove the BRP Sierra Madre, which is manned by only a small team of Philippine Marines. 

The Philippines has lodged a note verbale or a written protest against China over the incident. The August 5 water cannoning is only the latest in a growing list of China’s aggressive moves in the West Philippine Sea. – Rappler.com 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.