The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) bestowed honors upon troops who were part of the rotation and resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, some of whom sustained injuries after being harassed by the China Coast Guard and maritime militia last Monday, June 17.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. conferred medals to the troops and other military personnel who also took part in previous rotation and reprovisioning (RoRe) missions to Ayungin Shoal during his visit to Western Command headquarters on June 19.

Brawner particularly awarded a Wounded Personnel Medal to Seaman 1st Class Jeffrey Facundo, whose right thumb was severed when the CCG performed a high-speed block of their resupply boat.

During his visit, Brawner reiterated that the soldiers who conducted the June 17 RoRe mission fought back with “bare hands” and “everything that they had” when cornered by CCG and CMM vessels, despite being outnumbered.

“Gusto kong tanggalin ‘yung impression na hinayaan nila ‘yung CCG na kunin ‘yung kanilang kagamitan at sirain ‘yung mga boats natin. Despite the absence of weapons or certain items to defend themselves, lumaban pa rin sila,” Brawner said.

“But then again, may limitations po tayo. Number 1, we were outnumbered. ‘Yung dalawang RHIB natin, ang katapat ay walo mula sa CCG,” he added.

The chief of staff further lauded the composure and professionalism of the soldiers in responding to the harassment by the Chinese. He said the bravery and dedication of operating troops stood out against overwhelming and armed aggression by a careless world superpower.

“Despite the aggressive action of the CCG and militia, they were able to restrain from pursuing further distraction of our operations. We will rise above this all because we still believe in international law and the promotion of rules-based order,” he said.

“In terms of moral stature, nandoon pa rin tayo sa taas at hindi tayo sa bababa sa level na ginagawa ng ating aggressors – the CCG and militia,” he added.

Meanwhile, Brawner also introduced a new motto, which he said they are promoting as guiding principles of the AFP in the fight for the country’s sovereign rights in the WPS.

“This is – our seas, our right, our future. We will fight for our seas, we will fight for our rights, and we will fight for our future,” he explained.

“That’s what we will do as we continue to fulfill our mission specifically in WPS and our Filipino people can be assured that your AFP will remain steadfast in that desire to protect our territory and our territorial rights,” he elaborated.

“It is our right, it is our obligation to do that and moreover, ay talagang tuloy-tuloy pa rin ‘yung ating pagserbisyo sa mga mangingisda so that they will be able to fish sa ating EEZ,” he said.