National Defense Delfin Lorenzana (File photo)
MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday said the resupply mission to Filipino troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) will proceed this week.
Lorenzana made this remark when asked to confirm Western Command chief Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez’s comments that the resupply will proceed per the DND chief’s orders.
“Yes, there (are) such instructions,” Lorenzana said in a message to reporters.
When asked whether Navy, Coast Guard, or even Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels will escort the Philippine supply boats this time, Lorenzana said there will be none as the Chinese will not be interfering this time.
“No Coast guard or Navy escort. The Chinese will not interfere per my conversation with the Chinese Ambassador,” he said. “We will see if they are true to their words as our Navy will proceed with the resupply this week.”
Lorenzana said they have been talking with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian since the evening of Nov. 16 when the incident took place until Nov. 20.
Asked also to comment on claims that the Philippine boasts were water cannoned for trespassing, he said it is China that is violating the country’s sovereign rights within its 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“They are the one’s violating our sovereign rights within our EEZ. Our EEZ (200 NM from the Philippine mainland) was granted to the Philippines (by) the 1982 UNCLOS which, by the way, was ratified by China. Therefore, they have no right to impede, prevent or harass our ships within our EEZ whether we are fishing or bringing supplies to our detachment in the Sierra Madre in Ayungin shoal,” Lorenzana said.
The Western Command earlier reported that three Chinese Coast Guard vessels “blocked and water cannoned” two Philippine supply boats or “bancas” on Nov. 6.
No one was hurt but the Philippine vessels, which were identified as Unaiza Mae 1 and 3, had to abort their mission after one of them had its outrigger damaged by the water cannon.
On Friday, Malacañang said the Philippine government will not abandon the Filipino troops serving as a detachment at the Ayungin Shoal.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, acting Palace spokesperson, said the Philippines despite its mended ties with China would continue to assert its sovereign rights over its territories, including the Ayungin Shoal.
“We will continue to assert our sovereignty and sovereign rights, our jurisdiction over Ayungin Shoal and all other territories within our jurisdiction, including our EEZ,” he said in a virtual presser. (PNA)