MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang said Monday that it was “objectionable” that a Chinese warship blocked Philippine vessels on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
The Department of National Defense (DND) last week submitted a report to Congress during its budget deliberations, revealing that a Chinese Coast Guard ship blocked three Filipino vessels on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre last May 14.
“Syempre objectionable ‘yun… Nagdadala lang pala ng pagkain bakit naman ibla-block? (Of course that’s objectionable. They are just ferrying supplies and food, why block them?),” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing
However, Panelo said he would leave the matter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
The Ayungin Shoal incident happened almost a month before the June 9 incident near Recto Bank, where a Chinese trawler rammed and sank a Filipino fishing boat and abandoned the distressed crew in the open sea.
According to the DND, Chinese fishing vessels believed to be part of its maritime militia are also a common sight in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines had filed several diplomatic protests over China’s incursions in the disputed areas.
China has been pushing for its expansive claims in the South China Sea, refusing to recognize the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that invalidated its ambitious nine-dash line feature which claims virtually the entire South China Sea.
Meanwhile, President Duterte has chosen to shelve the PCA ruling in exchange for Chinese economic perks to help fund his administration’s infrastructure projects. /je