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PCG: China interfered in another medical evacuation in Ayungin




MANILA, July 10 ------ The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) was escorting an emergency medical evacuation of a Filipino soldier last July 7 near Ayungin Shoal when Chinese vessels reportedly interfered, a Philippine official said. Philippine Navy’s Rear Admiral Roy Vincent Trinidad said two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels conducting an emergency medical evacuation from BRP Sierra Madre were blocked by Chinese ships near Ayungin Shoal. Philippines says China disrupted medical evacuation in West PH Sea “Meron tayong isang tropa na masama ang pakiramdam who needed to be evacuated,” Trinidad said. “’'Yong kanyang condition warranted medical evacuation.” 

  

The PCG reported a similar incident last month, with the China Coast Guard supposedly preventing the medical evacuation of a sick Philippine Navy personnel stationed on BRP Sierra Madre. Based on satellite images from South China Sea monitor Sealight, a China Coast Guard ship and six Chinese maritime militia vessels sailed close to PCG’s BRP Cabra and BRP Cape Engaño as they passed 14 nautical miles east of Ayungin Shoal, former US Air Force officer Ray Powell said. Powell said the PCG ships had initially transmitted their automatic identification signals (AIS) around midnight, 18 nautical miles south of Ayungin. 

  

China then dispatched seven more militia vessels “to bolster [the] blockade” around Ayungin, while the CCG 5203 went south and first “interdicted” the two Philippine ships around 7 a.m., Powell posted on X. BRP Cabra and BRP Engaño were later observed moving southeast from Ayungin, towards Escoda Shoal around 3 p.m. CCG 5203 continued to shadow the Philippine vessels, while the other militia ships maintained their positions near the reef. The Chinese vessels included the 102-meter CCG 5203, the same Chinese vessel involved in a collision and water cannon attack on a Philippine resupply mission in 2023. 

  

Trinidad said the operation was led by the military's Western Command, with the assistance of PCG. “The bigger picture is there was a soldier who needed to be evacuated; he was successfully evacuated,” Trinidad said. “We look at it as a successful evacuation.” he added. 

  

National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela confirmed the incident. "The PCG swiftly deployed their vessels, BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) and BRP Cape Engaño (MRRV-4411), to rendezvous with the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) of LS-57 in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal," he said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).  "The PCG faced numerous obstructing and delaying maneuvers by CCG vessels, but they remained steadfast to their humanitarian mission and was able to complete the transfer of the sick personnel from the LS-57 RHIB to the PCG RHIB. Despite the threatening presence of various CCG small vessels, the PCG RHIB was able to return to the main PCG vessel without further interruption," he added. "The sick personnel was then provided with urgent medical attention. The personnel is now stable."  

  

Also called Second Thomas Shoal, Ayungin is among the hotspots in the West Philippine Sea where the Philippines grounded its warship BRP Sierra Madre to serve as the country’s naval outpost. China’s ships, which have surrounded the shoal, have blocked Philippine coast guard and supply boats in a years-long effort to take control of the atoll. 

  

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