28 resupply missions to PH-held islands in WPS conducted in 2023

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 6, 2024, 4:02 pm

<p>Philippine Navy spokesperson for the WPS, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad <em>(PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)</em></p>

Philippine Navy spokesperson for the WPS, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad (PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – A total of 28 rotation and resupply (RORE) missions for troops manning the Philippines' nine features in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) were successfully conducted last year, a ranking naval official said Tuesday.

In a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippine Navy spokesperson for the WPS, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, said the number includes 14 missions to the Ayungin Shoal.

Of the 14 missions to the Ayungin Shoal, three encountered harassment or water cannon blasts by the China Coast Guard (CCG) and maritime militia, which took place in August, November, and December, he said.

"All the others were unimpeded. No illegal actions were conducted. Furthermore, we had more reschedulings of missions to Ayungin because of the condition of the ships and (un)favorable weather conditions," Trinidad said.

He also clarified that the presence of the Chinese maritime militia in the RORE does not automatically mean illegal action or harassment.

"Presence is different from the illegal actions conducted (like) cutting across the bow, water cannon, or other activities," he added.

The Ayungin Shoal is where the BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57) stands watch over Philippine interests.

"When we say harass, (we mean) water cannon, illegal maneuvers, presence would be there, I would not like to call it shadowing," Trinidad said.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said these RORE missions are "part of regular operations in line with its constitutional mandate and ensure the safety and well-being of sailors and marines stationed in the occupied features in the WPS."

She added that these RORE missions are legitimate and routine activities aimed at exercising Manila's sovereign rights and jurisdiction over these areas that are within the country's exclusive economic zone.

"For the year 2023, a total of 28 RORE missions were conducted to sustain our forces deployed in the Kalayaan Island Group and Ayungin Shoal. Recently, we have successfully provisioned our troops to include the local community in Pagasa Island, stationed personnel at Lawak, Kota, Likas, Parola, Panata, and Patag Islands," she added.

Padilla, meanwhile, said last week's RORE mission to the Ayungin Shoal was successful.

"And in terms of that, we were able to rotate our personnel and give them their sufficient supplies for morale and welfare," she added. (PNA)