CNN Ph photo courtesy

By Junex Doronio

“MATALINO MAN ANG MATSING AY NAPAGLALANGAN DIN” — the age-old Filipino adage of outsmarting the cunning seemingly holds true when the Philippine vessels on their third resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal successfully slipped through the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) and maritime militia.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar confirmed that the mission to Ayungin was successfully carried out, despite an attempt by the CCG to sabotage it.

Aguilar noted that one of the blockading Chinese vessels was disabled after its propellers plowed through a coral reef in a shallow portion of the shoal.

Fate must have favored the Philippines when another Chinese vessel that tried to assist the stuck ship, instead damaged its hull after hitting what could be an outcrop of rocks.

According to US Air Force official and ex-Defence Attaché Ray Powell, two China Coast Guard (CCG) ships and 10 Chinese maritime militia vessels were monitored at 5 a.m. Friday, September 8, several kilometers off Ayungin Shoal.

He added that the Chinese ships were massing apparently to block the approaching Philippine boats on a third mission in five weeks to bring provisions to the troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre.

The BRP Sierra Madre, which was deliberately grounded at the Ayungin Shoal in 1999 during the administration of President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, has become a symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the offshore territory.

Only a dozen marines and sailors are stationed aboard the BRP Sierra Madre braving the possible attack of Chinese vessels as China expressed “firm opposition” to the resupply mission. (AI/MNM)