West Philippine Sea

‘Brazen aggression’: China used weapons vs Filipino troops in Ayungin resupply 

Bea Cupin

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‘Brazen aggression’: China used weapons vs Filipino troops in Ayungin resupply 

COAST GUARD CONFRONTATION. The Armed Forces of the Philippines releases videos from soldiers aboard rigid hull boats, from aboard the BRP Sierra Madre, and drones to show how the China Coast Guard disrupted a routine mission to bring supplies for and rotate troops assigned to the BRP Sierra Madre in the West Philippine Sea.

Screenshot from video from the Armed Forces of the Philippines

AFP videos show the China Coast Guard brandishing knives, ramming ships, and using tear gas against Filipino soldiers. China says the CCG was 'professional and restrained.'

MANILA, Philippines – New videos from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) released just before midnight on Wednesday, June 19, offer a glimpse into the harrowing situation that Filipino soldiers found themselves in on Monday, June 17 – as the subject of the China Coast Guard’s (CCG) violence. 

“In a brazen act of aggression, the CCG obstructed the AFP’s critical humanitarian rotation and resupply (RORE) operations at BRP Sierra Madre (LS57) in Ayungin Shoal on June 17, employing physical attacks, bladed weapons, blaring sirens, and blinding strobe lights,” said the AFP in a statement accompanying the newly released footage. 

‘Brazen aggression’: China used weapons vs Filipino troops in Ayungin resupply 

Five videos – taken by personnel aboard one of two Navy rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) deployed for the mission, soldiers aboard the BRP Sierra Madre, and via aerial surveillance – show the lengths CCG personnel took to stop the RORE mission on June 17.

The videos had been in the possession of the Western Command, which plans and executes resupply missions to Ayungin Shoal. They were presented to AFP chief General Romeo Brawner during his visit to Palawan on June 19. 

Several videos show CCG personnel branding a pickaxe and knives at Filipino personnel, as another personnel from the CCG hack at the RHIBs with bladed and pointed weapons. China also employed tear gas, sirens, and strobe lights, in a bid to “create chaos, disrupt communication, and divert the attention of AFP troops, exacerbating the hostile and dangerous situation,” according to the AFP. 

One video shows how Filipino soldiers – surrounded by tear gas and the chaos of the melee around them – attended to one soldier whose thumb had been cut off when it was caught between the Philippine and Chinese boats.

The CCG continued ramming and harassing the two Philippine RHIBs, even when they were already moored alongside the BRP Sierra Madre. 

The CCG eventually separated one of the RHIBs, then sandwiched it between two of their own vessels to drag it away from the BRP Sierra Madre.

“In an act of piracy, CCG personnel proceeded to loot supplies, pilfer equipment, and ultimately destroy the RHIB rendering it immobile,” said the AFP. Among those that the Chinese took were seven disassembled rifles that were meant to replenish the supplies of the BRP Sierra Madre. 

All the while, Filipino soldiers – especially those aboard the RHIBs as part of the resupply mission – were without arms. The AFP says Filipino soldiers do not carry weapons during resupply missions to Ayungin Shoal, a flashpoint for tensions between the Philippines and China, in a bid to de-escalate tensions.

It’s also why the Philippines does not use its larger gray ships to bring provisions and rotate troops in Ayungin, unlike for other outposts in the West Philippine Sea. 

Brawner commended the soldiers of the AFP, as well as personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard, for acting professionally and keeping their cool amid China’s harassment. 

Brawner demanded on Wednesday, too, that China return the equipment it took and pay for the RHIB they damaged. 

Ayungin Shoal is a feature that’s located just over 100 nautical miles away from mainland Palawan. It is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, an area that’s also part of the West Philippine Sea. 

China claims a huge part of the South China Sea as its own, including Ayungin Shoal. It has ignored the 2016 Arbitral Ruling, which affirmed the Philippines’ EEZ.  

In a press conference on June 19, Chinese foreign affairs spokesperson Lin Jian insisted that the CCG was “professional and restrained” in stopping the Philippine mission. “China Coast Guard didn’t take direct measures against the Philippine personnel,” Lin said. 

China has long taken issue with the Philippines sending construction materials to the BRP Sierra Madre – even if Manila has the right to establish military outposts in its own EEZ. 

The June 17 incident is the first between the Philippines and China, after the China Coast Guard’s new “regulation” kicked in on June 15. The rule, which covers an area vaguely referred to as Chinese waters, would allow its coast guard to arrest people deemed as trespassers and keep them detained for 60 days. – Rappler.com  

US reiterates mutual defense treaty terms after China rams, tows PH ships in Ayungin

US reiterates mutual defense treaty terms after China rams, tows PH ships in Ayungin

1 comment

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  1. ET

    President Marcos Jr. sent soldiers on a resupply mission without firearms. Filipino soldiers, particularly those aboard the RHIBs, were without arms. It seems they were “civilianized,” but can persons be called soldiers without firearms?

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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.