West Philippine Sea

WATCH: Videos show China blocking, using water cannons against Philippine vessel 

Bea Cupin

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WATCH: Videos show China blocking, using water cannons against Philippine vessel 
(UPDATED) The August 5 incident is the latest in China's many acts of harassment against the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Sunday, August 6, criticized China for blocking and later, pointing a water cannon on small Philippine vessels that were en route to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.  

Footage from the PCG released on Monday, August 7, shows the Chinese vessel moving dangerously close to the Philippine Coast Guard boat’s bow. Another video also released on Monday shows the China Coast Guard pointing a water cannon towards the Philippine ship’s direction as it traversed parallel to the Philippine Coast Guard ship. 

A different video shot from a drone in the sky shows just how much bigger a China vessel was compared to another Philippine vessel. In that footage, released by the office of Senate President Miguel Zubiri on August 6, the vessel is seen changing route after it is hit by the water cannon.

WATCH: Videos show China blocking, using water cannons against Philippine vessel 

In a statement on August 6, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the Chinese Coast Guard blocked and water cannoned the “indigenous boat” chartered by the military. In a separate statement that day, the PCG lamented “China Coast Guard’s dangerous maneuvers and illegal use of water cannons against Philippine Coast Guard escorting the indigenous boats chartered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

The two vessels were on a resupply mission to military troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. The grounded World War 2-era BRP Sierra Madre acts as the Philippines’ outpost in the shoal. As a result of China’s harassment – both the “dangerous maneuvers and illegal use of water cannons” – the Philippine vessel was unable to complete its mission. 

“Such actions by the CCG not only disregarded the safety of the PCG crew and the supply boats but also violated international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), and the 2016 Arbitral Award,” Coast Guard Commodore Jay Tarriela said in a statement on Monday, August 7. 

The incident is only the latest in a long list of China’s aggressive actions against the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, or part of the South China Sea that’s part of the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone. In early July 2023, the Philippines also scored China for “dangerous maneuvers” against its ships that were also on their way to Ayungin Shoal. 

These acts of aggression have happened despite friendly rhetorics between Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

The Philippines’ allies – the United States, Japan, the European Union, Canada, and Australia, among others, have criticized China over the incident. The United States, the Philippines’ only defense treaty-ally, noted in their statement that an “armed attack” on Philippine public vessels, including the Coast Guard, in the South China Sea, would be grounds for invoking the 1952 Mutual Defense Treaty. – 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.