A Philippine flag waves proudly atop the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal. (Palawan News file photo)

Chinese forces retained possession of the firearms they seized from Filipino soldiers, whom they prevented from entering Ayungin Shoal on June 17. This day marked the first instance of a foreign military boarding a Philippine vessel within its territorial waters.

Palawan News’ trusted source stated that Filipino troops on the resupply mission exercised utmost restraint thereby preventing a hostile confrontation when Chinese forces boarded their vessel, became physically aggressive, and took their guns.

“Yung mga baril na nakuha ng Chinese hindi nabawi. Andoon sa mga Chinese ang mga armas. Nakaalis ang mga sundalo natin sa Ayungin, pero hindi na nila nabawi ang mga baril nila. Hawak pa rin ng Chinese, tapos papalabasin nila na nabawi? Hindi yon ang totoong nangyari,” the source stated.

“Kinaladkad [ang] mga sundalo natin—grabe kaagresibo nang ginawa nila sa mga sundalo natin. Teribleng pagtitimpi ang ginawa ng mga tropa para hindi na magkagulo doon. Pero talagang agresibo sila, at tayo—hindi tayo lumaban,” the source added.

He said this happened despite Chinese soldiers striking Filipino troops, pointing fingers at them, scolding and yelling, and brandishing a bolo.

“Dinuro duro sila, pinaghahampas, at yong itak, bahala na lang kung sinong sundalo natin ang tatamaan. Grabe ang pagtitimpi ng mga sundalo natin,” the source described.

The source claimed that Filipino soldiers tried to negotiate the return of the firearms, but the Chinese forces refused, taking the guns away after storing them in a single bag.

On Monday, Chinese forces intercepted and thwarted a Philippine effort to deliver supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre outpost in Ayungin Shoal. They overpowered the rubber boat operated by the Filipino soldiers and seized their firearms.

It was during this confrontation that a Philippine Navy personnel from the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) suffered injuries, resulting in the loss of his right thumb.

Several other personnel were also injured and are now being treated at the military hospital inside Wescom.

This was admitted by the China Coast Guard (CCG) in a story that came out in the China Daily, a state-owned media. The CCG said they boarded the Philippine vessel, inspected it, drove it away for entering Ren’ai Reef in the South China Sea.

In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed that one Philippine Navy personnel sustained a severe injury after the CCG’s “intentional high-speed ramming” during the RoRe to the BRP Sierra Madre (LS 57).

“The CCG’s continued aggressive behavior and unprofessional conduct towards a legitimate humanitarian mission is unacceptable. They must restrain themselves to avoid escalating tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS),” it said.

General Romeo Brawner Jr., in his own statement, strongly criticized the CCG for its displays of violence, stating that it lacks the authority or legal basis to interrupt the Philippines’ resupply operation and harm assets within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“This reckless and aggressive behavior has caused bodily harm and constitutes a blatant violation of international maritime law, Philippine sovereignty, and sovereign rights,” he said.

“The AFP strongly denounces these actions, which not only infringe upon our maritime rights but also pose significant risks to regional stability,” he added.

Allies of the Philippines, including the United States, have condemned China’s recent actions that disrupted the latest resupply mission. U.S. Ambassador MaryKay Carlson explicitly criticized China’s aggressive and dangerous maneuvers near Ayungin Shoal, which resulted in injuries to personnel and damage to vessels.

She stated that China obstructed legitimate maritime operations aimed at delivering food, water, and essential supplies to personnel stationed within the Philippines’ EEZ.

“We stand by our allies in support of a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific,” she said.