West Philippine Sea

National Security Council discourages civilian-led Christmas convoy to Ayungin 

Bea Cupin

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

National Security Council discourages civilian-led Christmas convoy to Ayungin 

BRP SIERRA MADRE. The BRP Sierra Madre, a transport ship used as a military outpost of the Philippine Marines, marooned at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, on March 2014.


'Hindi natin masisiguro 'yung seguridad, at baka tingnan ito ng Tsina bilang isang provocative action,' says NSC spokesperson Jonathan Malaya

MANILA, Philippines – The National Security Council (NSC) said on Thursday, November 18, that it “highly discourages” civilian-led plans to launch a caravan to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea in time for Christmas.

Speaking on PTV-4’s Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon on Thursday, November 16, NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya confirmed that the NSC received a letter asking the government to support the plan. He said that while the intention is good, the government cannot support it.

Meron po kaming agam-agam kasi alam naman po natin na ‘yung Ayungin Shoal ay hotspot kumbaga, ano. Mataas ang tensyon diyan…. So ikinalulungkot po ng [NSC] na kung Ayungin Shoal po ang pag-uusapan, ay hindi po namin puwede supportahan,” the NSC spokesperson said.

“We highly discourage itong mga grupong ito from conducting their Christmas convoy civilian mission kahit maganda po ang layunin because of security concerns,” he added.

(We have some qualms because we know that Ayungin Shoal is a hotspot. Tensions are high there…. So the NSC regrets to say that if we’re talking about Ayungin Shoal, we cannot support it. We highly discourage these groups from conducting their Christmas convoy civilian mission even if the intention is good, because of security concerns.)

Atin Ito, a coalition composed of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), the Center for Agrarian Reform for Empowerment and Transformation (CARET), Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (Pakisama), Team Manila Lifestyle, concerned artists, Akbayan Party, and Akbayan Youth, had wanted to sail to the BRP Sierra Madre, a military outpost in Ayungin, in time for Christmas.

The group had a two-pronged goal – to honor frontliners in the Philippines’ dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea, and to show that even Filipino civilians should be able to sail freely through Philippine waters.

Malaya said National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, the NSC chief and National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea head, was worried over the many uncertainties in the planned mission – including how China would react to it.

Hindi natin masisiguro ‘yung seguridad at baka tingnan ito ng Tsina bilang isang provocative action,” he said.

(We cannot guarantee their security, and China might see this as a provocative action.)

Ayungin Shoal is among the flashpoints of tensions between Manila and Beijing.

Over the the past year, China has become more aggressive in stopping Philippine resupply missions to the Sierra Madre. The blocking and harassment of Philippine Coast Guard ships, as well as military-contracted ships, have become as routine as the supply missions themselves.

These confrontations have also been characterized by actions beyond China’s usual “dangerous maneuvers,” including the use of military-grade lasers and water cannons, and even causing a collision at sea.

The last two resupply missions on October 22 and November 10 were marked by collisions and the use of water cannons by China.

Malaya asked the groups to consider other outposts, where soldiers are also stationed, in the area.

Bakit hindi na lamang doon na lang nila dalhin ‘yung kanilang Christmas gifts – ‘yung mga nasa Lawak, ‘yung mga nasa Pag-asa island, at ‘yung sa iba pang mga features natin na hindi ganoong kataas ‘yung tension kumpara sa Ayungin Shoal?” he said.

(Why don’t they go and bring their Christmas gifts instead to Lawak, to Pag-asa island, and other features where tensions aren’t as high compared to Ayungin Shoal?)

Malaya also said the group could turn over any gifts and donations to the Navy itself, so these could be included in future routine resupply missions.

The Ayungin Christmas caravan is only one of several events the coalition is planning. They are also spearheading a donation drive for the Philippine Coast Guard, military personnel, and fisherfolk affected by China’s harassment. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Avatar photo


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.