Army sends supplies to Ayungin Shoal ship without incident

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command said Thursday it has resupplied the Philippine Navy’s BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal with food, water, medicines, and other necessities.

WesCom spokesperson Major Cherry Tindog said the Navy-contracted commercial boats safely went in and out of the shoal using the usual entry and exit points.

“This is the third consecutive resupply activity undertaken by the government with neither any escort nor untoward incident,” Tindog told reporters.

Joint Task Force West also conducted maintenance and repair of the ship which the Philippine government deliberately grounded in 1999 to serve as a permanent outpost in asserting the country’s sovereignty in the area.

Tindog said the last untoward incident in Ayungin shoal was a foreign ship’s shadowing and radio challenges last June. The resupply mission in BRP Sierra Madre back then was not escorted by the military.

She was apparently referring to incidents involving the Chinese Coast Guard which the Department of Foreign Affairs under the Duterte administration protested with Beijing.

“We see that there is no need for force-against-force stance when we’re doing a humanitarian activity such as resupply for our troops,” she noted.

4th under BBM

Tindog said the situation during resupply operations has remarkably improved.

“This resupply mission is the 10th that WesCom has conducted this year and the fourth since President Bongbong Marcos has taken the helm as the Commander in Chief,” she added.

Meanwhile, WesCom commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos explained the absence of coast guard or navy vessels was “deliberate.”

The Philippine government, he noted, is “exhausting all available means to peacefully co-exist” until all issues within the West Philippine Sea “are finally resolved.”

Clear message

“Our current thrust is part of the trust-building efforts we are undertaking in response to the guidance of the President to exhaust all means to resolve the issues in the West Philippine Sea,” Carlos said.

Hence, he added that continuing dialogues with Chinese authorities is “one such approach.”

The crew of the supply boats noticed the presence of two China Coast Guard and five Chinese militia vessels upon entering and exiting the Ayungin Shoal on Tuesday.

Carlos said these “continuing deliberate actions” by the Area Task Force West and WesCom on the shore are aimed at sending a clear message that the Philippine government will continue to sustain the morale and welfare of its sailors aboard BRP Sierra Madre.

He added the successful resupply operations “only show” that better understanding with each other will be gained in peaceful and constructive dialogues with the country’s neighbors.

“We look forward to more interaction with China as our two governments seek a peaceful resolution to this regional impasse,” Carlos said.

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