The interrupted replenishment mission for the military personnel stationed in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is expected to go smoothly when it resumes this week, Defense Minister (DND) Minister Delfin Lorenzana assured on Sunday. 21st November.
Lorenzana said he had spoken to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, about the November 16 incident in which three Chinese Coast Guard ships blocked and detonated water cannons on two supply boats en route to Ayungin Shoal, to bring food to the troops.
“The Chinese will not interfere in my conversation with the Chinese ambassador,” said Lorenzana.
The defense chief was in constant communication with the Chinese envoy as the incident happened to express the military’s intention to continue the supply mission for the Filipino troops.
“We have spoken to each other every day since the evening of the 16th, while the incident happened until yesterday (November 20th). We’ll see if they stay true to their words as our Navy will resume deliveries this week, ”he said.
The military is now repairing the supply boat that was damaged by the water cannon detonation.
Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez, commander of the West Command (WesCom), said they were already repairing the outriggers of the wooden hulled boat that was destroyed by the strong water currents from the Chinese Coast Guard ships.
“As soon as it is repaired, it will be subjected to a sea test. If the results are satisfactory, we will resume the mission immediately, ”he said.
Just like the previous mission, the supply boats will not be escorted by the Philippine Navy or the Philippine Coast Guard, although there is a risk of being harassed again by the larger Chinese ships.
“Of course the fear is still there. We hope that our colleagues in Manila contributed their part to the discussions with their Chinese colleagues. But as far as our team is concerned, we will continue to do our job, ”said Enriquez.
Instead of larger naval vessels, the military only uses wooden hulled boats to bring supplies to the stationed troops, as Ayungin Shoal is just a shallow atoll and large ships easily land on it.
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