Apr 212014

China was warned Thursday against trying to tow away the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal, as this could be considered an attack against the Philippines and prompt the United States to defend the country in keeping with their Mutual Defense Treaty. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, or Pamalakaya, has assailed China for violating Philippine sovereignty by insisting that Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Reef) and eight other rock formations in the West Philippine Sea belong to Beijing.

Pamalakaya vice chair Salvador France yesterday asked the Chinese government to “respect the Filipino people’s legitimate claim over these islets and the body of water where they are located.”

He said the rock formations are inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

France also asked Beijing to “demilitarize Ayungin Shoal and other areas occupied by Chinese military forces.”

Chinese naval units “should also stop harassing Filipino fishermen trying to make a living in the West Philippine Sea,” France said.

Aside from Ayungin Shoal, France was also referring to Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Mischief Reef, McKennan Reef, Subi Reef, Gaven Reef, Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef and Fiery Cross Reef.

Pamalakaya also slammed the United States for “meddling in the current row between the Philippines and China.”

Washington has been “manipulating all South China Sea-related issues to effectively promote increased US military presence in the contested waters,” it said.

For its part, the Philippine government is “consistently playing to the hilt its role as the front-act person of the US in its own war with China over the South China Sea.” Jerry E. Esplanada

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Tags: Ayungin Shoal , China , Pamalakaya , South China Sea , West Philippine Sea

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Apr 032014
China warned: Don’t try to tow away BRP Sierra Madre

China was warned Thursday against trying to tow away the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal, as this could be considered an attack against the Philippines and prompt the United States to defend the country in keeping with their Mutual Defense Treaty. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—China was warned Thursday against trying to tow away the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal, as this could be considered an attack against the Philippines and prompt the United States to defend the country in keeping with their Mutual Defense Treaty. And should this happen, international law expert and University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque said, the result could be a war in Asia. “The result: the West Philippine Sea [dispute], unless China backs off, may trigger the biggest armed conflict in the region since the Vietnam and Indochina conflict,” Roque said in a statement. Roque noted that the Sierra Madre has always been described as a “derelict,” but the government recently described it as a “commissioned naval vessel.” A statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on March 14 said, “The BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine naval vessel, was placed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent Philippine government installation in response to China’s illegal occupation of Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) in 1995.” The Philippines says Ayungin Shoal is part of its continental shelf, over which it has “sovereign rights and jurisdiction” and by pointing that the Sierra Madre is a commissioned ship, the Read More …

Mar 302014
AFP: Civilian ship sent to avoid standoff at Ayungin

A dilapidated Philippine Navy ship LT 57 (Sierra Madre) with Philippine troops deployed on board is anchored off Second Thomas Shoal (local name: Ayungin Shoal) Saturday, March 29, 2014 off West Philippine Sea. An hour from the shoal, the Chinese coast guard ship closed in on the Philippines supply vessel and twice crossed its bow. AP PHOTO/BULLIT MARQUEZ MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Sunday said it sent a government civilian ship to Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) over the weekend to avoid confrontation with Chinese naval forces patrolling disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea. Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office chief, maintained that the mission of the civilian vessel, which figured in a two-hour standoff with two Chinese Coast Guard ships on Saturday, was to resupply Marines manning the grounded Philippine Navy ship on Ayungin Shoal and replace them with a new team of soldiers. “The objective was just to resupply our troops. The mission is done,” Zagala told the Inquirer in a phone interview. “We sent a civilian vessel to avoid a confrontation [with the Chinese forces]. We simply want to reprovision and rotate our troops there,” he said. “We used a civilian vessel to show them our intent, which was to reprovision and rotate our personnel, and nothing more,” Zagala said, adding that it was a regular mission. Other countries with territorial claims in the South China Sea also resupply their troops, he said. Until March 9, when the Chinese Coast Guard Read More …

Mar 112014
Ship expulsion ‘clear threat to PH rights’—DFA

Philippine Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Raul Hernandez AP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — For the second time in 2014, Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels drove away Filipinos from maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and subsequently rejected the protest filed by the Philippine government. On March 9, two civilian vessels contracted by the Philippine Navy to resupply and bring fresh troops onto the grounded ship BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, were blocked and then told to leave the vicinity of the shoal because it was Chinese territory. This was the first time in 15 years that China has interfered with the Navy’s resupply and troop rotation operations on the BRP Sierra Madre, which was run aground in 1999 to mark the Philippine’s claims, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters in a press conference Tuesday. “China’s actions constitute a clear and urgent threat to the rights and interests of the Philippines under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Hernandez said. “Ayungin Shoal is part of the continental shelf of the Philippines and is therefore entitled to exercise sovereignty rights and jurisdiction in the area without the permission of other States,” he said. The BRP Sierra Madre serves as an outpost to a small marine detachment stationed there to defend the shoal. The DFA has submitted a protest to the Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy Tuesday but the protest was immediately rejected, Hernandez said. “[China gave] the Read More …

May 282013
China raises concerns over PH’s reported development plans on Ayungin Shoal

By Frances Mangosing Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:51 pm | Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin speaking with Chinese Ambassador to Manila Ma Keqing after the International Day of UN Peacekeepers event at Camp Aguinaldo. Frances Mangosing/INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines—China raised its concerns over the Philippines’ reported plans of establishing structures on Ayungin Shoal in the disputed West Philippine Sea. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and China Ambassador to Manila Ma Keqing discussed issues on Ayungin among other things on the sidelines of the commemoration of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Wednesday at Camp Aguinaldo. The two leaders were seen talking for a few minutes after the event. “They were concerned [with the] Philippines coming up with structures, additional structures in the Ayungin Shoal and I told her that the ship that is moving towards Ayungin is only for provisions of food and water for soldiers who are there,” he told reporters when asked what they discussed. The BRP Sierra Madre is the Philippine Navy’s detachment on Ayungin Shoal. Gazmin said he assured Ma that the Philippines would not build structures there. “We will not violate the agreement not to construct new structures. We told them we’re only bringing supplies for our troops there, like water, food. There will also be rotation of troops because we can’t put our men there permanently or they’ll go crazy,” he said. He quoted Ma as saying that China is continuously monitoring Philippine troops there or whether new structures are being built. Read More …

May 282013

Defense chief says no plans to boost military presence, but contingent to keep watch MANILA (Mabuhay) – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday said that there are no plans yet to reinforce the Marine contingent keeping watch off Ayungin Shoal. The Filipino presence is located on BRP Sierra Madre, a landing […]

May 092013
2 Chinese spy ships sighted off PH-held shoal

By Redempto D. Anda Inquirer Southern Luzon 3:19 am | Friday, May 10th, 2013 PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines—The Western Command is monitoring the presence of two Chinese military surveillance vessels that were reported to have been stationary since Tuesday afternoon near the Philippine-occupied Ayungin Shoal in the disputed Spratly’s region. The two Chinese vessels were identified by other defense sources, who asked not to be identified, as “maritime surveillance vessels.” The vessels were reported to be some six nautical miles west of Ayungin Shoal since Tuesday afternoon. According to the source, the information about the Chinese presence “has been relayed to proper authorities,” including Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Wescom spokesperson Lt. Cherry Tindog confirmed that the regional military command has received reports about the Chinese vessels but declined to issue additional information concerning the reported intrusion. Ayungin Shoal, also known internationally as Second Thomas Reef, is one of the reef formations within the six islands where Philippine troops are present and is considered by the country as part of the municipality of Kalayaan. It is closest to Mischief Reef, which until 1995 was occupied by the Philippines until the Chinese built a fortification on it.