Soldiers in Ayungin Shoal get fresh food, supplies as China lurks closely

Published June 25, 2022, 3:03 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Military personnel stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre (LS 57) in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), Palawan got a much needed boost as they received fresh food and other supplies from their visiting comrades, the Western Command (WESCOM) said Saturday, June 25.

The Western Command delivers food and other supplies to soldiers stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal in the Kalayaan Island Group, Palawan from June 20 to 22, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Naval Forces West)

The WESCOM said that Joint Task Force West successfully conducted a troop rotation and reprovisioning of personnel (RORE) from June 20 to 22 even as China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels patrolling the West Philippine Sea (WPS) “shadowed” or closely followed the two civilian boats carrying the supplies and issued radio challenges against the Filipino marines and navy.

“On board indigenous boats Unaizah Mae 2 and 3, fresh supplies for the troops were brought to the Ayungin detachment. As the mission team approached the shoal, they cheerfully waived to the LS 57 watch standers,” the WESCOM said.

Aside from the fresh supplies, the WESCOM also fielded a new batch of troops that will guard the unique Ayungin detachment and maintain the country’s presence in the KIG or Spratly Islands.

A China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel is spotted near the Ayungin Shoal as the Western Command brings food and other supplies to troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre from June 20 to 22, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Naval Forces West)

Meanwhile, the WESCOM said it has submitted new reports to the National Task Force for West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) on the presence of Chinese vessels in the KIG as sighted from the recently conducted RORE mission.

Concerns were raised that China is harrassing the military’s RORE missions to Ayungin Shoal to starve the troops and force them out of the area.

“WESCOM assures our people that our joint forces remain strong in performing our mandate in the entire WPS based on our established rules of engagements and with assertive but non-provocative posture in order to maintain regional peace and stability, and to protect what is rightfully ours,” it said.

BRP Sierra Madre was deliberately ran aground on Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as an outpost of the military as the government wanted to assert its sovereignty in the area amid China’s excessive claims in the Spratly Islands.