AFP: China’s account on Ayungin incident ‘deceptive, misleading’

/ 01:15 PM June 17, 2024

 China Coast Guard

A China Coast Guard ship maneuvers past a Philippine fishing boat during the distribution of fuel and food to fishers by the civilian-led mission Atin Ito (This Is Ours) Coalition, in the disputed South China Sea on May 16, 2024. A Philippine boat convoy bearing supplies for Filipino fishers said they were headed back to port May 16, ditching plans to sail to a Beijing-held reef off the Southeast Asian country after one of their boats was “constantly shadowed” by a Chinese vessel. FILE PHOTO/Agence France-Presse

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday called the China Coast Guard’s (CCG) account of the reported collision between its vessel and a Filipino resupply boat in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal “deceptive and misleading.”

CCG said that after its “solemn warning” went ignored, its vessel took “control measures” against the Filipino resupply boat for entering the waters off Ayungin Shoal at 5:59 a.m. on Monday, causing a collision between the two.

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“We will not dignify the deceptive and misleading claims of the China Coast Guard,” said AFP public affairs chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad in a statement.

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READ: CCG blames PH for latest ship collision at West Philippine Sea

Limited info

Trinidad, however, did not provide further details on the latest mission.

“The AFP will not discuss operational details on the legal humanitarian rotation and resupply mission at Ayungin Shoal, which is well within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” he said.

Commodore Jay Tarriela, Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, earlier declined to comment on CCG’s claim, but later clarified that they are not in charge of the operation.

READ: China has ‘zero common sense’ over actions during Ayungin airdrop—PH Navy

“As far as the PCG is concerned, we are not in a position to provide any details on this issue. This is not a PCG operation,” Tarriela told reporters when asked to comment on CCG’s latest claims.

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‘Control measures’

West Philippine Sea monitor and Sealight director Ray Powell said the CCG might have used a water cannon against the Philippine vessel.

“Control measures, when the CCG uses these terms, often means water cannons,” Powell told reporters in a video interview on Monday.

The exact location of CCG and the Filipino boat’s collision remains unclear as the former’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) was turned off.

However, Powell said the AIS shows that only PCG’s BRP Bacagay appears to be escorting the Filipino resupply boat.

“From the Philippine side, the only ship visible broadcasting AIS, which is what I can track, is the BRP Bagacay, which is down to the southeast of Ayungin Shoal,” Powell said.

“It’s not clear whether the collision happened in that vicinity or up further to the north, where there is also a lot of activity,” he added.

Ignore Beijing’s ‘solemn warning’ 

Meanwhile, a security expert said the country should not heed China’s “solemn warning,” noting that the country has every right to conduct operations inside its own exclusive economic zone.

“If Manila heeds to China’s solemn warning, Beijing will continuously take advantage of the Philippines and will deem that they have won over the contested waterways without sweat of a strong legal mandate but by show of force,” Chester Cabalza, president and founder of Manila-based think tank International Development and Security Cooperation, told INQUIRER.net on Monday.

Cabalza also said: “Manila should not fall into this trap as Beijing will try to widen their bullying acts.”

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The regular resupply mission in the BRP Sierra Madre grounded in Ayungin has become one of the flashpoints of tension in the West Philippine Sea, as Chinese vessels resorted to usage of water cannons during previous missions which even injured Philippine navy personnel at one point.

Last May 19, CCG personnel aboard rigid hull inflatable boats seized and dumped overboard food and other supplies which were airdropped by a military aircraft for the naval outpost.

For comprehensive coverage, in-depth analysis, and the latest updates on the West Philippine Sea issue, visit our special site here. Stay informed with articles, videos, and expert opinions.

TAGS: China Coast Guard, West Philippine Sea

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