West Philippine Sea

AFP: Soldier severely injured after China’s ‘intentional ramming’ in Ayungin Shoal

Bea Cupin

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AFP: Soldier severely injured after China’s ‘intentional ramming’ in Ayungin Shoal

STAKING CLAIMS. A Philippine flag flutters from BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999 and became a Philippine military detachment on the disputed Ayungin Shoal, on March 29, 2014.

Erik de Castro/Reuters

The Philippine military calls for 'restraint' from China 'to avoid escalating tensions' in the West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed on Tuesday evening, June 18, that a soldier from the Philippine Navy “sustained severe injury” after China rammed a Philippine vessel during a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal on June 17. 

AFP: Soldier severely injured after China’s ‘intentional ramming’ in Ayungin Shoal

“A Philippine Navy personnel sustained severe injury after the CCG’s (China Coast Guard) intentional high-speed ramming during the Rotation and Resupply (RoRe) mission to the BRP Sierra Madre (LS57) at Ayungin Shoal on June 17. The injured personnel has been safely evacuated and received prompt medical treatment,” said the AFP in a statement to media. 

“The CCG’s continued aggressive behavior and unprofessional conduct towards a legitimate humanitarian mission is unacceptable. They must restrain themselves to avoid escalating tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS),” the Philippine military added.

On Monday, June 17, the Philippines attempted to carry out a routine resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, a feature just over 100 nautical miles from mainland Palawan. The mission was disrupted, however, by China’s “dangerous maneuvers, including ramming and towing.”

The China Coast Guard, in an early morning statement on Monday, claimed a collision happened in waters off Ayungin Shoal. On Tuesday, the China Coast Guard claimed they boarded a Philippine vessel during the mission.

“The AFP remains committed to maintaining our presence in the WPS, adhering to international law to protect our seas, our rights, and our future,” said the AFP.

The Philippine military did not provide further details about the injury sustained by the soldier, although news reports citing sources earlier reported that a Navy personnel’s finger had been cut off as a result of the confrontation.

The BRP Sierra Madre is a World War II-era ship that was purposely ran aground in Ayungin Shoal back in 1999, in response to Chinese expansion in nearby Mischief Reef.

The feature, also called Second Thomas Shoal, has been a flashpoint for tensions between China and the Philippines. Even if it is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, China claims it as its own, as it does nearly the entire South China Sea.

Beijing refuses to recognize a 2016 arbitral ruling that affirmed the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. – 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.