Chinese approval not needed; PH to continue Ayungin resupply

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

June 9, 2024, 9:56 am

<p>Secretary Eduardo Año <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

Secretary Eduardo Año (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Philippines will continue to "maintain and supply" its outposts in the West Philippine Sea, including the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said Saturday as he chided China for suggesting it be notified for access to the feature.

"We reaffirm our commitment to uphold our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Ayungin Shoal, which is well within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) as recognized by international law and the 2016 Arbitral Award," he said.

In a statement, he labeled the Chinese Foreign Ministry's call for the Philippines to first notify Beijing for access to Ayungin Shoal as "absurd, nonsense and unacceptable".

"We do not and will never need China’s approval for any of our activities therein," he said.

The Chinese MOFA's (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) suggestion came after the Chinese Coast Guard drew flak for its May 19 actions against a Filipino vessel evacuating a sick soldier from the BRP Sierra Madre.

Año said these actions are "barbaric and inhumane," and are not only violations of international maritime laws but also of basic human rights.

"The recent reports of Chinese forces allegedly seizing food and medical supplies meant for our advance post in Ayungin Shoal are equally reprehensible and warrant a thorough investigation and accountability," he said. 

READ: NTF-WPS: Chinese vessel rams PH boat carrying sick military personnel 

Despite such harassments, Manila said it will continue to maintain and supply its outposts in the West Philippine Sea, including the BRP Sierra Madre, "without seeking permission from any other nation".

"Our operations are conducted within our own territorial waters and EEZ, and we will not be deterred by foreign interference or intimidation," Año said.

He said the Philippines remains open to dialogue and peaceful negotiations to resolve the disputes in the entire South China Sea.

He reminded China, however, that such dialogue must be based on mutual respect and adherence to international law.

"We call on China to respect the arbitral ruling and to cease any actions that escalate tensions or undermine regional stability," he said.

"We thank the international community for their continued support to our efforts towards a rules-based order in this vital maritime region," he added.

In a separate post on X, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said China must remember that Ayungin Shoal is located approximately 105 nautical miles away from the nearest coastline of Palawan.

"Therefore, China does not have any jurisdiction over these waters. The recent incident involving the obstruction of a medical evacuation highlights the inhumane actions of the Chinese government, as they demonstrate a disregard for safety and the preservation of life," he said. (PNA)