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Chinese CG blocks PH ship on supply mission

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Malacañang on Monday said it is “objectionable” that a Chinese Coast Guard ship had blocked local vessels on a resupply mission to the Philippine Navy’s BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal west of Palawan.

The Chinese ship with bow number 3305 came as close as 1,600 yards to the three civilian vessels on May 14 that would bring supplies to Sierra Madre, which serves as an outpost of the Philippine Navy, according to the Department of National Defense report.

“Of course, that’s objectionable…They were just bringing food and why were they blocked?” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing.

He said the Palace will let Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. respond on the matter, as it is under his jurisdiction.

The DND reported that since January, CCG ships have been in close proximity to Ayungin Shoal, around 20 nautical miles from Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, one of the features occupied by China in the Kalayaan Island Group that was transformed into military outposts.

Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna said China regularly deploys at least one coast guard vessel near the shoal to monitor activities, including the arrival of Filipino fishing boats and the resupply mission for the troops stationed in Sierra Madre.

The government has filed several diplomatic protests this year over the presence of Chinese vessels within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

“Notably, China regularly deploys at least one CCG vessel perceived to be monitoring the activities thereat, including the arrival of Filipino fishing boats as well as the Rotation and Reprovision mission of the [Philippine Navy],” the report read.

A total of 322 Chinese militia vessels with different bow numbers were monitored in the first semester of 2019, the report read.

The DND also noted the “emerging trend” of Chinese warships in the Sulu-Celebes Sea area.

Fifteen Chinese research vessels were also monitored in the country’s territory this year.

The DND report was submitted to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, who requested it to vet the military’s modernization plan.

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