China Coast Guard deploys water cannon vs PH supply boat anew

Filipino and Chinese vessels engaged in a heated confrontation anew during another resupply mission in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, West Philippine Sea (WPS) on Friday, Nov. 10, with the hostilities reaching its climax when a China Coast Guard (CCG) ship deployed a water cannon against a much smaller indigenous boat chartered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said CCG and Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels "recklessly harassed, blocked, and executed dangerous maneuvers" against two supply boats rented by the AFP to bring fresh provisions to troops onboard BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

The NTF-WPS said that CCG vessel with bow number "5203" deployed a water cannon against supply boat M/L Kalayaan "in an illegal though unsuccessful attempt to force the latter to alter course" during a resupply mission around 7:30 a.m.

M/L Kalayaan and Unaizah May 1 were chartered by the AFP for the said resupply mission but they were allegedly subjected to "extremely reckless and dangerous harassment" at close proximity by CCG rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIB) inside Ayungin Shoal lagoon during their approach to BRP Sierra Madre, a Philippine Navy warship deliberately ran agrounded on Ayungin Shoal to serve as a military outpost.

"We condemn, once again, China's latest unprovoked acts of coercion and dangerous maneuvers against a legitimate and routine Philippine rotation and resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, that has put the lives of our people at risk," the NTF-WPS said. 

"The systematic and consistent manner in which the People's Republic of China carries out these illegal and irresponsible actions puts into question and significant doubt the sincerity of its calls for peaceful dialogue," it continued.

"We firmly insist that Chinese vessels responsible for these illegal activities leave the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal immediately," the task force added.

Despite the tense confrontation, both the supply boats were able to successfully reach BRP Sierra Madre as they completed the mission.

"The Philippines wil not be deterred from exercising our legal rights over our maritime zones, including Ayungin Shoal which forms part of our Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf. We demand that China demonstrate that it is a responsible and trustworthy member of the international community," the NTF-WPS said.

It can be recalled that on August 5, a CCG ship fired a water cannon and made dangerous maneuvers against an indigenous boat and a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel bringing food and supplies to military troops stationed on BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

Last Oct. 22, a CCG vessel also collided with supply boat Unaizah Mae 2 during a resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal while a CMM vessel bumped with a PCG vessel.