The rotation and resupply mission for troops aboard BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, scheduled for last weekend, was postponed due to technical problems with the intended vessel, said Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla.

Despite this, the Western Command (Wescom) utilized an Islander plane to airdrop food supplies to troops on Sunday, January 21. A source stated that it was a temporary solution since the civilian boats intended for performing the rotation and resupply mission are still unavailable.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), which takes the lead during rotation and resupply mission (RoRe) missions, regularly uses civilian vessels Unaiza Mae 1 and 2.

One of the vessels sustained minor damage from water-cannon fire by the China Coast Guard during the RORE mission last December, prompting the AFP to seek alternative vessels.

However, Padilla did not provide specific details about the boats to be used or the problems encountered.

“We’re dependent on the vessels that’s gonna be used so at this point, we identified that there was a technical difficulty on the vessel that was supposed to be used for such mission,” Padilla told members of Defense Press Corps in a press briefing on Monday, January 22.

“So until such time that we determine that a vessel to be used is sea-worthy, that’s the time that we can schedule another RoRe mission,” she stated.

The newly installed AFP spokesperson also said that despite the delay of the RORE mission, troops aboard BRP Sierra Madre are “trained for any eventuality.”

“But of course, we always look out for their welfare and we really endeavor to provide for them to be able to give due provisions,” she said, adding that they are creative enough to find ways to sustain their prolonged stay aboard the ship.

Asked if there are other possible ways to conduct resupply mission, Padilla said the AFP has other ways of doing it but only on certain cases.

“There are different ways and airdrop is one way of doing it but ito ay ginagamit lamang on instances that are emergency situations and pag kailangan lang ng medyo mabilisan na deployment,” she said.

“Our regular RoRe missions will still be continuously done. Based on the guidance of the president and the Chief of Staff, it will be up for us to elevate how we do things and try to think out of the box. So i think in the succeeding months, magkakaroon tayo ng changes on how we handle things,” she added.

Padilla refrained from providing comments on the operational specifics of the airdrop mission that was done on Sunday.

“We cannot comment on the operational details. Again, such option has been part of the operational mix that the AFP employs to support emergency supplies needed by our troops in LS57 given a short period of time,” she said.

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