China Coast Guard points laser light at PCG ship off Ayungin

By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

February 13, 2023, 5:45 pm

<p>A photo of the China Coast Guard vessel with bow number 5205 taken by a crew member of BRP Malapascua on Feb. 6, 2023.<em> (Courtesy of PCG)</em></p>

A photo of the China Coast Guard vessel with bow number 5205 taken by a crew member of BRP Malapascua on Feb. 6, 2023. (Courtesy of PCG)

MANILA – A China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel has directed a military-grade laser light at a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship on a rotation and resupply mission of the Philippine Navy (PN) in Ayungin Shoal at the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on Feb. 6.

In a statement on Monday, the PCG said the CCG vessel with bow number 5205 used the laser towards BRP Malapascua, “causing temporary blindness to her crew at the bridge.”

“The Chinese vessel also made dangerous maneuvers by approaching about 150 yards from the vessel's starboard quarter,” it said.

The incident occurred while BRP Malapascua was about 10 nautical miles (NM) from Ayungin Shoal and about 4 nm of the ship’s dead ahead maneuvering from the portside heading starboard side.

In response, the BRP Malapascua altered its course from Ayungin Shoal and instead went towards Lawak Island to continue maritime patrol and support the BRP Teresa Magbanua in a separate rotation and resupply mission to its sub-stations in the Kalayaan Island Group.

“The deliberate blocking of the Philippine government ships to deliver food and supplies to our military personnel on board the BRP Sierra Madre is a blatant disregard for, and a clear violation of, Philippine sovereign rights in this part of the West Philippine Sea,” it said.

However, the PCG asserted it will remain “steadfast in protecting the sovereignty and rights of the country and Filipinos in the WPS.”

“The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) can always rely on the PCG to support its resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal. Despite the dangerous maneuver of the much larger CCG ships and their aggressive actions at sea, the PCG ships will always be in the West Philippine Sea to sustain our presence and assert our sovereign rights,” it said.

Following the incident, the AFP said the Chinese government “must restrain its forces from conducting any acts that could endanger the lives of people.”

"The Secretary of National Defense (Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr.) has already declared or said that the act committed by the Coast (Guard) of China is offensive and unsafe. Therefore, I think it is time for the Chinese government to restrain its forces so it does not commit any provocative act that will endanger lives of people," Col. Medel Aguilar, AFP spokesperson, said.

“They should prove by act that we are friends,” he added.

In another statement, Senator Risa Hontiveros asked the Chinese government to act responsibly and restrain their forces from further inflaming the situation at WPS.

Atin ang Pilipinas at karapatan nating magdepensa sa ating teritoryo, mamamayan, at soberanya (The Philippines is ours and we have the right to defend our territory, citizen and sovereignty). I also reiterate my call for Malacañang and the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) to meet with other claimant countries in the ASEAN as well as member-states of the QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) to ensure that peace is upheld in our waters. We need to establish an updated security framework with our partners in the region as soon as possible),” Hontiveros said.

QUAD is a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India Japan and the United States.

In August, the CCG also prevented PCG ships from coming closer to the Ayungin Shoal during a PN resupply mission.

During the incident, CCG 5205 removed the cover of her 70 mm naval armament when BRP Teresa Magbanua came close to Ayungin Shoal at a distance of 2.5 NM.

The said ship, together with two Chinese Maritime Militia vessels and CCG 5102, formed a 13 NM-radius blockade to prevent Philippine ships from reaching the troops in the area. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)