DND thanks PH allies for support over collision incident

The Department of National Defense (DND) recognized the support that the Philippines received from like-minded countries after Chinese vessels collided with Filipino vessels in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea during a recent resupply mission.

"We wish to acknowledge the statements issued by the Governments of France, South Korea, and Japan supporting the Philippines in the latest incident wherein Chinese vessels, operating illegally, aggressively, and provocatively, hit Philippine ships in the West Philippine Sea," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said Tuesday, Oct. 24.

The embassies of France, South Korea and Japan released statement of support for the Philippines in the wake of the Oct. 22 collision involving a China Coast Guard ship hitting a civilian supply boat chartered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to bring fresh provisions to troops onboard BRP Sierra Madre, and the bumping of a Chinese maritime militia with Philippine Coast Guard ship BRP Cabra while the latter was acting as an escort vessel. 

The Embassy of France in the Philippines said the French government was deeply concerned with the dangerous maneuvers conducted by Chinese vessels as it called for respect for freedom of navigation in the tense waters as guaranteed by international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the 2016 arbitral award which invalidated China’s claims in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Embassy in the Philippines said it was concerned about "unilateral actions that raise tensions in the South China Sea and threaten the safety of crew members." 

"We reaffirm our support for peace, stability and rules-based order in the South China Sea, as an important international sea lane of communications, and for the freedom of navigation and overflight based on the principles of international law, including UNCLOS," it added.

For its part, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed "serious concern for actions which increase regional tensions" in the South China Sea.

"Japan believes that the issue concerning the South China Sea is directly related to the peace and stability of the region and is a legitimate concern of the international community including Japan, and thus Japan opposes any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force as well as any actions that increase tensions in the South China Sea," it stressed.

DND Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. earlier condemned the collision which he described as a "serious escalation" of China's illegal activities in the WPS.

Chinese vessels have consistently been blocking the rotation and reprovision (RORE) missions of the AFP in Ayungin Shoal but it was the first time that their ships and militia collided with Filipino vessels during the said operation in the area this year.