Poe denounces China’s demand to remove BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal

Maris Federez   •   November 25, 2021   •   167

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe has denounced China’s demand for the Philippine government to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal.

In a statement released Thursday (November 25), Poe underscored that the 2016 arbitral ruling of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration “declared that Ayungin Shoal belongs to the Philippines and is well within our exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.”

“China has no right to dictate what we can do within our waters,” Poe reiterated.

“Its recent statement telling us to remove BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal is another display of utter arrogance and aggression that we must not take sitting down,” she added.

Poe urged the government to step up its efforts in addressing the issue in addition to the diplomatic protests that the Department of Foreign Affairs has filed against China.

“Aside from diplomatic protests, the government should step up efforts in rallying our neighbors to form a united front against China in the South China Sea,” Poe said.

“Time and again, several nations have stood by us and shared our goal of ensuring peace, stability, and harmony,” the lawmaker added.

Poe stressed that every country must always act in deference to the sovereignty of others.

“Mutual respect must always be the cornerstone of our relationship with any nation,” Poe said.

On Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian demanded that the Philippines must remove the grounded BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal, saying it should “honor its commitment.”

“China demands that the Philippine side honor its commitment and remove its grounded vessel on Ren’ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal),” the Chinese official said in a briefing. “This position remains unchanged.”   —/mbmf

PH Defense chief says China trespassing in Ayungin Shoal

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday reiterated that the Philippines has sovereign rights over Ayungin Shoal (also called Second Thomas Shoal) following China’s call for the country to remove its grounded vessel in the area.

“Ayungin lies inside our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) which we have sovereign rights. Our EEZ was awarded to us by the 1982 UNCLOS, which China ratified,“ Lorenzana told reporters.

“China should abide by its international obligations that it is part of,” he added.

The Defense chief issued the statement in response to the remark of China’s Foreign Ministry, through its spokesperson Zhao Lijian, demanding the Philippines to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal.

BRP Sierra Madre is an old Philippine Navy ship that was ran aground there to assert Manila’s claim over the area. It has been serving as the outpost of a small Philippine military contingent since 1999.

In a press conference in Beijing, Zhao claimed anew that Ayungin Shoal (known in China as Ren’ai Jiao) is part of Nansha Qundao, which is the Chinese name for the Spratly Islands also being claimed in part by the Philippines.

But Lorenzana maintained that Ayungin Shoal is within the Philippines EEZ as it is located about 105 nautical miles west of Palawan.

Aside from UNCLOS, the Defense chief also noted that the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in its 2016 ruling on a case lodged by the Philippines, stated that China’s territorial claim over the West Philippine Sea has neither historic nor legal basis.

“Ergo, we can do whatever we want there and it is they who are actually trespassing,” he said.

“Meron tayong dalawang documento na nagpapatunay na meron tayong sovereign rights sa ating EEZ habang sila ay wala at yung claim nila walang basehan, “ he added.

Lorenzana also said that as far as he knows, there is no commitment made by Philippine authorities to remove BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal.

“As far as I know there is no such commitment. That ship has been there since 1999. If there was commitment it would have been removed long time ago,” he said.

China’s demand for the removal of BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal came after Philippine military boats completed their resupply mission on Thursday.

The boats were deployed there a week after Chinese coast guard vessels blocked and harassed the first Filipino mission that were sent to the area.

The incident prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to call out China’s action at the contested waters during the ASEAN-China special summit on November 22. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

PH military boats on resupply mission have reached Ayungin Shoal – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine military boats carrying supplies for Filipino troops have reached Ayungin Shoal (also called Second Thomas Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Tuesday.

“Dumating na ang resupply boats sa Ayungin Shoal at nakarating na ang supply sa BRP Sierra Madre ngayong tanghali,” acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said during a Palace briefing.

The military boats left Oyster Bay in Palawan on Monday.

Nograles made the announcement a week after two military boats were blocked and harassed by three Chinese Coast Guard vessels during a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal.

No one was hurt in the incident but the mission was aborted as one of the two boats sustained damage. The boats were transporting food and other supplies to military personnel stationed in the shoal.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said the vessels were deployed after Chinese envoy Huang Xilian gave assurance that the Philippine military’s resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal will not be impeded.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. last week expressed dismay over the incident and said he has conveyed the Philippine government’s protest to China’s foreign ministry.

Beijing earlier claimed the Philippine boats “trespassed” into China’s territory and that its coast guard vessels only “performed official duties in accordance with law.”

But Philippine authorities maintained that the Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group, which is within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Ayungin Shoal is about 105 nautical miles from Palawan. It is currently occupied by Philippine troops.

PH deploys resupply vessels to Ayungin Shoal

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military has deployed its resupply boats to Ayungin Shoal (also called Second Thomas Shoal) several days after Chinese coast guard ships blocked and harassed Filipino vessels in the same area.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the ships left Oyster Bay in Palawan this morning, and are expected to reach the shoal where Philippine troops are stationed on Tuesday.

Lorenzana said the vessels were deployed after Chinese envoy Huang Xilian gave assurance that the resupply mission will not be impeded.

“Pero pakiusap nila, walang escort,” he said.

Lorenzana said he and Huang have been in constant communication following the incident in Ayungin Shoal last week where two Philippine boats in resupply missions were blocked and harassed by three Chinese coast guard ships.

No one was hurt in the incident but the mission was aborted as one of the two boats sustained damage. The boats were transporting food to military personnel stationed in the shoal.

Beijing earlier claimed the Philippine boats “trespassed” into China’s territory and that its coast guard vessels only “performed official duties in accordance with law.”

But Lorenzana maintained that the Ayungin Shoal is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and that it was the Chinese vessels that violated the country’s sovereign rights.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier expressed dismay over the incident and said he has conveyed the Philippine government’s protest to China’s foreign ministry.

The Ayungin Shoal (also called Second Thomas Shoal) is about 105 nautical miles from Palawan. The shoal is currently occupied by Philippine troops. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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