BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal in the WPS. (PN file photo)

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) have yet to issue a statement regarding the alleged collision between a Philippine resupply vessel and a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea early Monday morning, June 17.

According to the CCG, they implemented “control measures” after the Philippine resupply vessel “illegally entered” the waters near Ayungin Shoal and violated International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. The CCG further alleged that the Philippine vessel “deliberately approached the Chinese ship in an unprofessional manner,” leading to the incident.

Sealight Director Ray Powell posted on X that at least three CCG vessels were spotted near Ayungin Shoal, operating without broadcasting detectable automatic identification signals (AIS), commonly referred to as “running dark.”

In addition to the collision incident, Powell noted that the Chinese maritime militia vessel Qiong Sansha Yu 0010 intercepted the PCG patrol ship BRP Bagacay at 8 a.m., approximately 20 nautical miles southeast of Ayungin Shoal. Following the interception, both vessels were observed heading southwest.

The PCG vessel subsequently turned north towards an area with a significant number of Chinese maritime militia vessels, possibly to assist the resupply vessel.

Tensions at Ayungin Shoal have been escalating due to China’s unilateral declaration to arrest “foreigners” who “trespass” in the territory it claims.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declined to discuss the incident or the “operational details on the legal humanitarian rotation and resupply mission at Ayungin Shoal, which is well within our EEZ.”

AFP Public Affairs Officer Col. Xerxes Trinidad emphasized that the AFP will not entertain the CCG’s “malicious and misleading claims,” which aim to divert the issue in the West Philippine Sea.

“The main issue remains to be the illegal presence and actions of Chinese vessels within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, which infringes on our sovereignty and sovereign rights. The continued aggressive actions of the CCG are escalating tensions in the region,” Trinidad said in a statement sent to the media.