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NSC blasts China's 'psywar' on removing ship in Ayungin

MANILA, August 16 ------ The National Security Council (NSC) described China's narrative on the country's alleged promise to remove BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal as a form of "psychological warfare."

Jonathan Malaya, NSC assistant director general, reiterated that Beijing should reveal who the Filipino official or individual that supposedly promised removing the ship in Ayungin, saying they should prove this claim. "If they really believe in what they are saying, then ilabas nila ang mga tao diumano na nagsasabing ganun. Parang tuloy tayo ay we're stuck in the Chinese narrative," Malaya told Radyo 630. "Kinakagat natin yung [psychological warfare] ng China," he said.

According to Malaya, it seems that the Chinese want the Philippines to be divided on this issue, saying this could be a part of the Asian power's strategy. "Remember, lahat ito parte ito ng psywar ng China kasi gusto ng China na hindi tayo magkasundo bilang isang bansa. Diba? The less harmonious and the less unified we are in this position, it plays into the game plan of China," he said. Meanwhile, Malaya said they are looking into the possibility of informants, after the Philippine Coast Guard said China's Coast Guard has advanced knowledge of the Philippines' resupply missions.

The official said the Armed Forces of the Philippines' operational security must be given premium, as this is the government's responsibility. "Isa yan sa mga anggulo na tinitingnan natin kasi based doon sa ating assessment noong nangyari, handang-handa ang Tsina para magkaroon, para i-block ang ating mga barko, in particular yung dalawang Coast Guard vessels natin at 2 supply boats natin," he said. Malaya though is not discounting other possibilities. "Hindi mo rin kasi, trabaho ng lahat ng bansa na magkaroon ng magandang intelligence. Siyempre may mga satellites din naman ang Tsina, may mga assets din yan sa ating bansa," he said.

A spokesperson for China's foreign ministry last week said the Philippines supposedly "made clear promises to tow away the warship illegally 'stranded' on the reef." Beijing renewed the call for the aging ship's removal days after Manila accused the China Coast Guard of firing water cannon against Philippine boats on a resupply mission to marines stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre. The BRP Sierra Madre was deliberately grounded in 1999 in an effort to check the advance of China in the hotly contested waters. The handful of Philippine marines deployed on the crumbling vessel depend upon resupply missions to survive their remote posting.



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