The two resupply boats that were recently prevented by Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels from delivering food and other items to military soldiers on BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal arrived there safely Tuesday, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
But Lorenzana decried anew as a form of “harassment and intimidation” the Chinese Coast Guard’s action in sending a rubber boat crew close to the BRP Sierra Madre to take photos of the supply boats as they unloaded their cargos.
“There was a Chinese coast guard ship in the vicinity which sent a rubber boat with three persons near the Sierra Madre while our boats were unloading and took photos and videos,” Lorenzana said.
“I have communicated to the Chinese ambassador that we consider these acts as a form of intimidation and harassment,” he added.
Lorenzana said Unaizah May 1 and Unaizah May 3 arrived at their destination at 11 a.m., ignoring a CCG ship that was in the vicinity.
The defense department statement said the Navy personnel who manned the resupply mission boats will stay in Ayungin for a couple of days before they return to Oyster Bay in Puerto Princesa City.
Lorenzana said since the incident in Ayungin in the West Philippine Sea, he had been “quietly” resolving the issue, staying calm despite the fact that what transpired was an “affront to the Filipino people”.
In the early evening of November 16, two CCG ships fired water cannons on the same Philippine resupply boats to block them from reaching the BRP Sierra Madre. It was an act that marine expert Jay Batongbacal described as an effort to remove Filipino soldiers from the shoal in preparation for the possibility of Beijing increasing its presence in the region by building another artificial island.
“For days, I have been quietly resolving an issue involving our detachment at the Ayungin Shoal. One of the most significant challenges of being a Defense Secretary is staying calm in the face of crisis,” he said.
I have told the Chinese Ambassador that no one can prevent us from doing what we have to lawfully do within the West Philippine Sea, an area where we have sovereign rights by international laws,” he added.