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The Philippines Retains Commitment to Ayungin Shoal Despite Chinese Provocations
The Philippine government has issued a strong statement of commitment to Ayungin Shoal in the face of recent Chinese provocation. On August 5th, Chinese vessels fired a water cannon at a Philippine Navy vessel escorting supply boats providing provisions to the BRP Sierra Madre, a permanently stationed Philippine ship in Ayungin shoal and location of a handful of Filipino marines.
Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya of the National Security Council (NSA) declared that the Philippines “will never abandon Ayungin Shoal,” and that the incident was likely an attempt by China to gauge Philippine commitment. The NSA is led by National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, himself a proponent of the country’s territorial defense.
Additionally, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have stressed their commitment to resupply missions to Ayungin Shoal in the face of Chinese aggression. AFP and PCG spokesmen Col. Medel Aguilar and Commodore Jay Tarriela stated that the Rotation and Reprovisioning, or “RORE”, missions are legally conducted within the country’s exclusive economic zone. President Duterte personally distributed aid to flooding victims in the province of Malolos while discussing the incident.
In response to the provocation, the Department of Foreign Affairs fired off another note verbale against Beijing. Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo delivered the note verbale on Monday, with Undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro presenting it to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian. The DFA, in a statement, strongly protested the “blocking and water cannon operations by the Chinese Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Militia vessels against Philippine indigenous boats conducting a regular rotation and resupply and humanitarian mission”.
The incident exposed the increasing number of Chinese vessels in the area, an apparent tactic to corral Filipino Ships. The PCs also noticed the presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels, likely watching over Chinese vessels in an effort to assert their claim over the area. This latest incident marks the 445th diplomatic protest filed against China since 2020.
The Philippines stresses its commitment to the defense of its territorial integrity in the face of Chinese aggression. Despite the recent activity, the government stands by their commitment to protect and reclaim Ayungin Shoal, thereby safeguarding the country’s sovereignty and ensuring the safety of Philippine troops stationed there.