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PCG releases videos showing China's water cannon use, dangerous moves vs. PH vessels

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday released videos of the August 5 incident wherein the Chinese Coast Guard used water cannon and performed alleged dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels going to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

In one of the videos, a CCG vessel was seen blasting a water cannon in the direction of a PCG vessel. In another video, a CCG vessel was seen directly in front of a PCG vessel, blocking its path.

"Such actions by the CCG not only disregarded the safety of the PCG crew and the supply boats but also violated international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), and the 2016 Arbitral Award," PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela said.

"The PCG calls on the China Coast Guard to restrain its forces, respect the sovereign rights of the Philippines in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, refrain from hampering freedom of navigation, and take appropriate actions against the individuals involved in this unlawful incident," he added.

On Sunday, the PCG reported that the CCG used water cannons against its vessels going to Ayungin Shoal on Saturday for a resupply mission.

These PCG vessels were escorting indigenous boats chartered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to deliver food, water, fuel, and other supplies to military troops stationed on BRP Sierra Madre.

The CCG said it had taken "necessary controls" against Philippines boats that had "illegally" entered its waters.

"Two repair ships and two coast guard ships from the Philippines illegally broke into the waters... in China's Nansha Islands," CCG spokesperson Gan Yu said in an Agence France-Presse report, adding that Beijing had "implemented necessary controls in accordance with the law and stopped Philippine ships carrying illegal building materials."

The United States backed the Philippines in the latest attack of the CCG against the PCG vessels en route to Ayungin Shoal for a resupply mission, saying that it directly threatens the peace and stability in the region.

“The United States reiterates, pursuant to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the arbitral decision is final and legally binding on the PRC and the Philippines. The United States calls upon the PRC to abide by the arbitral ruling as well as to respect the freedom of navigation – a right to which all states are entitled,” it added.

The US also reaffirmed that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces would invoke mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines and US.

In June, two CCG vessels also made "dangerous maneuvers" that could have caused a collision with two PCG ships near Ayungin Shoal.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, on the other hand, said in July that the maneuvers of their vessels in Ayungin Shoal were “professional and restrained.”

The PCG in February also accused a CCG vessel of pointing a "military-grade" laser light at one of its vessels supporting a military rotation and resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal.

China defended the move by saying that the Philippines vessel was intruding into Chinese territory.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated Beijing's massive claims in the South China Sea in July 2016.

"The Tribunal  concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’," the Permanent Court of Arbitration said.

China however said it would ignore the ruling. 

Recall of Philippine envoy

House of Representatives leaders, for their part, said such violent action by China should never go unpunished, starting with the recall of the Philippines' ambassador to China, Jaime Florcruz.

"I suggest we recall our [Chinese] Ambassador back to Manila to show our deep indignation to this attack. Let us also degrade our Philippine Embassy in Beijing as a sign of protest," said Rodriguez, chairman of the House constitutional amendments panel and member of the House foreign affairs  panel.

"These continuous violations  of our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea should now be firmly addressed by our government. I will [also] file a resolution condemning China Coast Guard for its water cannon blast against our PCG vessels escorting our supply vessels bringing provisions to our military personnel staying on board BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal," Rodriguez added.

House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela party-list, for her part, said the international community should stand with the Philippines in upholding the rules-based international order and respecting the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) amid this latest aggression from China.

"This is a critical point for the Philippine government to stand with the Filipino people and end this one-sided diplomatic dance with China. President Marcos Jr. must openly condemn China's aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea which continues to threaten the livelihood and security of our fisherfolk and coastal communities,” Brosas said.

"We urge China to cease its aggressive actions to resolve territorial disputes. The safety and security of Filipino service members and the peaceful navigation of international waters must be upheld, and the international community must collectively call for peace, stability, and the respect for international law in the West Philippine Sea,” Brosas added. —KG/RSJ, GMA Integrated News