Home / Headline / Chinese warships reinforce Coast Guard, militia in WPS

Chinese warships reinforce Coast Guard, militia in WPS

Meanwhile, Secretary Andres Centino, the Presidential Assistant for Maritime Concerns, said that Chinese Navy warships now operate in the sea area, monitoring the situation during the rotational amd resupply mission of the Armed Forces in Ayungin Shoal.

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año talked with his US counterpart, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, on Monday as they discussed the recent spate of “illegal, coercive, aggressive, and deceptive actions” by agents of the China Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

In a statement, the National Security Council said Año expressed his appreciation for the United States’ continued assurances and reaffirmation of its ironclad commitment to the Philippines-US alliance.

“The two NSAs look forward to the upcoming inaugural Japan-Philippines-United States trilateral leaders’ summit in Washington D.C. next week,” it added.

The US, in a readout from its embassy in Manila, said: “Mr. Sullivan underscored the ironclad U.S. alliance commitments to the Philippines under the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, which extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft—to include those of its Coast Guard—anywhere in the South China Sea.”

The conversation between Año and Sullivan came after President Marcos announced last week “a response and countermeasure package” against China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea.

Mr. Marcos, US President Joe Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will be attending a trilateral leaders’ summit in Washington DC on April 11.

Meanwhile, Secretary Andres Centino, the Presidential Assistant for Maritime Concerns, said that Chinese Navy warships now operate in the sea area, monitoring the situation during the rotational amd resupply mission of the Armed Forces in Ayungin Shoal.

“In the past, there were fewer numbers if vessels being deployed to disrupt our resupply, but now it has increased in number. The distance from where they start blocking or challenging has been further out than before,” Centino, the former Armed Forces chief, said.

“We have observed an increase in the aggression [of China in the area],” he added in an ambush interview at the sidelines of a forum hosted by the University of the Philippines College of Law.

Centino also said that the distance from where the Chinese now operate is much farther from where they used to.

“It’s about three to four miles from the shore [of Ayungin], and i think there have been changes in the manner or the means that they’ve been disrupting,” he said.

China Coast Guard vessels recently used high-powered water cannons to drive away Filipino sailors delivering  fresh provisions for the troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal.

The ship Unaizah Mae 4 was dealt serious damages and Philippine Navy sailors aboard the civilian vessel were also hurt.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said in an open letter that while the Philippines realizes “that accountability is important in the issue on whether or not a so-called ‘gentleman’s agreement’ was forged with China regarding the BRP Sierra Madre and Ayungin Shoal, we Filipinos must not lose sight of the fact that the main threat to our rights in the WPS is the Chinese Government’s illegal activities.”

Teodoro also reminded Filipinos not to fall into the trap of “refocusing the debate,” which he said is part of Chinese propaganda on the issue.

“Let us not fall into the trap set by Chinese propaganda of refocusing the debate on a so-called promise while deflecting attention away from China’s government, thereby freeing and allowing them to continue with their illegal activities in our EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” the DND chief stressed.

Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said former President Rodrigo R. Duterte reportedly had a verbal agreement with China not to construct and repair Philippine facilities in the WPS.

This includes sending construction materials for BRP Sierra Madre.

Roque also clarified that this agreement does not involve the towing or removal of the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal. — Vince Lopez & Rey E. Requejo

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