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PH running out of resupply ships due to China harassment - WESCOM

PUERTO PRINCESA, March 7 ------ The Philippines is running out of ships to use in its resupply missions to BRP Sierra Madre, a naval post in Ayungin Shoal inside the country's exclusive economic zone, AFP Western Command commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said.


Carlos made the remark after the China Coast Guard vessel used water cannon on the resupply ship Unaizah May 4 (UM4) to keep it from reaching the Ayungin Shoal. The official was on board UM4 and witnessed firsthand the water assault. "I’m running out of supply boats to use," Carlos told GMA Integrated News. He said the other resupply ships which have been hit by water cannons in past missions are either limited or remain under repair.


Videos provided by the WESCOM showed Carlos at the ship’s bridge with several crew members when the water cannon from two China Coast Guard vessels hit and broke the glass windows. He sustained minor cuts on his fingers while four other personnel were injured. “Wala akong nakitang intention to sink just to disable kasi ang target nila is the bridge and smokestack para maano yung engine natin like they did sa M/L Kalayaan,” Carlos said.


The Chinese coast guard in December water cannoned M/L Kalayaan which was impaired and needed to be towed back to Palawan. He said the ship was returned to the Municipality of Kalayaan, which owns the vessel. Also in December last year, another resupply ship, Unaizah May 2 was rammed by the China Coast Guard and remains under repair. Carlos said he would still send the UM4 despite the latest water cannon attack. It remains intact and sustained only minor damages.


The mission was aborted and the vessel was escorted back to Palawan by the Philippine Navy’s BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Sindangan. The latest water cannon incident occurred very close to Ayungin Shoal. “Parang mas malakas this time from the previous water cannon. Talagang tinarget nila... to stop from entering the shoal. We have already penetrated eight from the shoal. We’ve already crossed the 12 nautical miles, 'yun 'yung parang ano nila, eh erritorial seas,” he said.


Aside from the water cannon incident, the Chinese coast guard vessel 21555 collided with BRP Sindangan on its right side while attempting to block the latter on the way to Ayungin Shoal. Philippine Coast Guard personnel had quickly put up fenders on Sindangan’s right side and avoided further damage.



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