(Photo courtesy of Wescom)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)'s Western Command (Wescom) has successfully completed its resupply mission for troops at the BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57) which serves as the country's outpost at the Ayungin Shoal on Wednesday.

"The AFP’s Western Command, through its Joint Task Force West under the command of Captain Alan M. Javier, successfully resupplied BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal on 05 October 2022, with an assortment of food supplies, water, medicines, other supplies, as well as maintenance and repair equipment needed by the PN (Philippine Navy) ship and her crew," Wescom spokesperson Maj. Cheryl Tindog said in a statement Thursday.

The PN-contracted commercial boats safely entered and exited Ayungin Shoal using its usual entry and exit points. This is the third consecutive resupply activity undertaken by the government without an escort or an untoward incident taking place.

“The absence of Philippine Government escort vessels was deliberate. We are exhausting all available means to peacefully co-exist until all WPS (West Philippine Sea) issues are finally resolved," Wescom chief Vice Admiral Alberto B. Carlos said.

He added that this current thrust is part of the trust-building efforts we are undertaking in response to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s guidance to exhaust all means to resolve the issues in the WPS.

"Hence, continuing dialogues with Chinese authorities is one such approach," Carlos said.

According to the crew of the supply boats, they noticed the presence of two China Coast Guard and five Chinese militia vessels as they safely entered and exited Ayungin Shoal on their own.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403) was conducting a patrol in the West Philippine Sea during the conduct of the resupply run.

These continuing deliberate actions of Area Task Force West and Wescom aim to send a clear message that the Philippine government will continue to sustain the morale and welfare of its sailors aboard BRP Sierra Madre while peacefully co-existing with the Chinese troops in the contested waters.

“Today’s (Wednesday) successful operations only show that if we continue to engage our neighbors in peaceful and constructive dialogues, we will understand each other better. We look forward to more interaction with China as our two governments seek a peaceful resolution to this regional impasse,” Carlos added.

Tindog, meanwhile, said this is the tenth resupply mission conducted by Wescom this year and the third since Marcos took over the helm as Commander in Chief.

"The situation since then has remarkably improved," she added. (PNA)