West Philippine Sea

Marcos orders PCG probe into China’s ‘reckless maneuvers’ against Philippines in Ayungin

Bea Cupin

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Marcos orders PCG probe into China’s ‘reckless maneuvers’ against Philippines in Ayungin

BRIEFING. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. holds a Command Conference with all security officials to discuss the latest violation by China in the West Philippine Sea, in Malacañang on October 23, 2023.

PCO Photo

(1st UPDATE) The Palace says the incident is 'being taken seriously at the highest level of government'

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday, October 23, ordered the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to conduct an investigation on the “dangerous, illegal, and reckless maneuvers by vessels of the China Coast Guard” during a Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Marcos orders PCG probe into China’s ‘reckless maneuvers’ against Philippines in Ayungin

According to a release from the Presidential Communications Office, Marcos gave the orders during a Monday morning Command Conference with the country’s defense and security officials. The conference was held a day after China ships collided with Philippine vessels during an October 22 resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

“The incident, brought about by dangerous, illegal, and reckless maneuvers by vessels of the China Coast Guard, caused damage to a Philippine vessel within our exclusive economic zone and is being taken seriously at the highest level of government,” said the Presidential Communications Office in a post on Facebook.

In a later briefing in Malacañang, PCG Commandant Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan said the probe, which would cover the extent of damage on Philippine ships, should be done in five days.

The Philippines has summoned China’s ambassador to Manila over the incident.

The Unaiza May 2, a wooden Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-contracted supply boat, collided with a much larger China Coast Guard vessel while it was en route to Ayungin Shoal where the BRP Sierra Madre is aground. Later, the PCG’s BRP Cabra collided with a Chinese Maritime Militia ship that was blocking it from accompanying the Unaiza May 2.

China has claimed that it was the Philippines who provoked the collisions, but Philippine officials have said that Beijing’s allegations aren’t backed up by evidence.

During a press conference by the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, the PCG showed media images of the Unaiza May 2’s movement to prove that the smaller resupply boat was just on its way to Ayungin and that it was the China Coast Guard ship to the right of the Unaiza May 2 that turned to its left, leading to the collision just past 6 am that day. To the left of the Unaiza May 2 was a Chinese Maritime Militia ship.

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BRIEFING. National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General and NTF-WPS Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya, Assistant Seretary Teresita Daza of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Commodore Jay Tarriela of the Philippine Coast Guard and Col. Medel Aguilar of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, hold a Joint National Task Force-West Philippine Sea press conference at the NSC Headquarters in Quezon City on October 23, 2023, on the “dangerous blocking maneuvers of the Chinese maritime militia vessels” that led to a collision with a Philippine resupply boat and a Philippine Coast Guard ship in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal on October 22.

The BRP Cabra, which escorted the Unaiza May 2, was surrounded and blocked by both Chinese vessels minutes before the smaller BRP Cabra collided with the China Coast Guard ship. China vessels continued to swarm the Cabra, eventually leading to a collision past 8 am on October 22.

PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela, during the press conference, said the Philippines “[does not] respond to lies, we only comment on facts.”

“Our narratives are always backed with compelling images and unedited videos. Additionally, we always adhere to international laws, as we believe in upholding ethical standards in all our actions,” he later added in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The Unaiza May 2 was not able to reach the BRP Sierra Madre since Chinese ships continued to hound it. The AFP eventually decided that the boat should not push through with its mission.

The PCG has yet to finish assessing the damage caused on the BRP Cabra. The Unaiza May 2, meanwhile, had not yet reached shore when the Monday press conference was ongoing.

The resupply mission was a “partial success,” with only the Unaiza May 1 making its way to the BRP Sierra Madre.

In response to China’s insistence that the Philippines should not bring construction supplies to the grounded war ship, the Philippines has insisted that it has the right to do so. The now-dilapidated BRP Sierra Madre serves as the Philippines’ outpost in Ayungin Shoal. – Rappler.com

[ANALYSIS] BRP Sierra Madre and the complexities of geopolitics in the West Philippine Sea

[ANALYSIS] BRP Sierra Madre and the complexities of geopolitics in the West Philippine Sea

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  1. ET

    We are eagerly awaiting the results of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) investigation, which will be published on Rappler within its stated timeline. Hope that there will be no delay in the making of such a report. We are eager to learn of President Marcos Jr.’s decision, too.

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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.