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Palace: Philippine vessels reached Ayungin Shoal a week after China's water cannon attack

The Philippine supply vessels have reached Filipino troops deployed in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea, the Palace said Tuesday.

Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles made the announcement a week after Chinese coastguard blocked and fired water cannon at Philippine supply vessel en route to Ayungin Shoal, which is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

"Dumating na ang resupply boats sa Ayungin Shoal at nakarating na ang supply sa BRP Sierra Madre ngayong tanghali," Nograles said at a briefing.

Armed Forces Western Command chief Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez said the "resupply boats safely arrived BRP Sierra Madre at 11AM. No untoward incident." 

On November 18, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said two Philippine supply boats on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal were blocked and water cannoned by Chinese Coast Guard vessels on November 16.

No one was hurt in the incident, but the boats had to abort their resupply mission, Locsin said.

Locsin said the Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), which is an integral part of the Philippines, as well as the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

The Chinese government has reasoned out that the Philippine vessels "trespassed" and that Chinese forces were just doing their duty to protect Chinese territory.

But President Rodrigo Duterte called out China for such an abhorrent attack, saying the use of force is never the way to settle claims. 

"We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments," Duterte said.

"This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership," he added during the ASEAN-China special summit Monday. 

Ayungin Shoal, or Second Thomas Shoal, is located about 174 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, and is one of the nine areas occupied by Filipino troops in the West Philippine Sea.

Earlier in the day, the House Makabayan bloc filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the incident— RSJ, GMA News