Despite the statements of Beijing that the Philippine Coast Guard made an intrusion when it entered the water of Ayungin Shoal, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command (Wescom) said they remained steadfast and will continue sovereignty and maritime patrols.
Ayungin Shoal is contained within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
It was designated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) to which both the Philippines and China are signatories.
But of February 6, a Chinese vessel recently pointed a military-grade laser at a Filipino ship in Ayungin Shoal.
“Even nung nangyari yung incident na ‘yun, yung AFP natin ay hindi naman po tumigil sa kanyang mandato na magpatrolya dun sa ating area sa WPS as part of AFP’s mandate,” Wescom spokesperson Commander Ariel Joseph Coloma said.
“So wala pong nagbago, tuloy pa rin po ang mandato ng ating AFP, tuloy pa rin po ang pagpapatrolya ng ating mga barko sa WPS,” he added.
Coloma added that they will be abiding by the missions that are given to them.
During the said incident, the laser temporarily rendered the PCG crew blind.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs filed a diplomatic protest against China over the incident.
On the same day, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to express his serious concern over the increasing frequency and intensity of China’s actions against PCG personnel and Filipino fishermen.
Defending its coast guard’s action, Beijing accused the PCG vessel of intruding into the waters off the Ren’ai Reef (Ayungin) “without Chinese permission.” China virtually claims the South China Sea in its entirety.
CurrentPH News Service