Armed Forces of the Philippines

AFP: China should not meddle with PH affairs in Ayungin Shoal

Jairo Bolledo

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AFP: China should not meddle with PH affairs in Ayungin Shoal

NEAR-COLLISION. A China Coast Guard vessel comes dangerously close to the Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Malapascua on April 23, 2023, near the Ayungin Shoal, which is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

Philippine Coast Guard

(1st UPDATE) The rotation and resupply mission shows that the Philippines stands up against threats and coercion, the military adds

MANILA, Philippines – China should not meddle with Philippine affairs in Ayungin Shoal, an Armed Forces of the Philippines officer said on Saturday, August 19.

“They should not interfere with our RoRe (rotation and resupply) mission,” Colonel Medel Aguilar, AFP spokesperson, said in press conference when asked how Chinese forces should behave.

When asked what would the military do if China would not follow the demand, Aguilar replied: “We will see, we will see what will happen.”

In a statement on Saturday, the military also said it was “duty-bound” to ensure its personnel’s well-being despite the August 5 incident, where Philippine supply ships were blocked, and were “subjected to dangerous maneuvers and water cannon.”

“We are, therefore, committed to the conduct of another rotation and resupply mission for our personnel and to maintain our presence in Ayungin Shoal. This exercise of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction is a testament to our firm belief in the rules-based international order that underpins regional peace and stability,” the AFP said.

Aside from the fact that Ayungin Shoal holds a strategic importance for the country and serves as a fishing ground for the Filipino fisherfolk, the rotation and resupply mission also shows that the Philippines stands up against threats and coercion, the military said.

“As we continue to pursue this humanitarian undertaking and defend our rights over our maritime zones, we also affirm our support for the peaceful settlement of disputes. We, therefore, call on all relevant parties to abide by their obligations under international law and respect the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over its maritime zones,” the AFP added.

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Philippines doubles down on Ayungin after China claims ‘illegal’ activities

Philippines doubles down on Ayungin after China claims ‘illegal’ activities

On August 6, the military said one of its supply vessels was harassed and water cannoned by a Chinese coast guard (CGG) vessel on its way to Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal). The military immediately condemned the “excessive and offensive” actions committed by the CCG.

Ambassador Huang Xilian, China’s top diplomat in Manila, had been summoned by Manila’s Department of Foreign Affairs over the incident. The Philippines also protested the incident.

Historically, the Philippines in 1999 intentionally grounded the BRP Sierra Madre, an old and rusty navy ship, in Ayungin Shoal to stand the ground of the Philippines in its territorial waters. However, China, in various instances, harassed Filipinos near the shoal.

Ayungin Shoal is 105 nautical miles west of Palawan.

In July this year, Philippine Coast Guard boats were “constantly followed, harassed, and obstructed by the significantly larger Chinese coast guard vessels” during a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal. Prior to that, in November 2021, three CCG vessels blocked and used water cannons on Philippine boats en route to Ayungin.

Clarification from Arroyo

On the allegations that the Philippine government promised China to remove BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal, former president and now Deputy House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said she never made such a promise to China, nor any other country during her tenure as chief executive.

As the president, Arroyo also said she did not authorize any government official to make such a promise to China. The former chief executive added that she only recently became aware of the claims when it “surfaced in public discussions.” – With a report from Dwight de Leon/

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.