The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday laid out in greater detail the August 5, 2023 incident off Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, explaining that the Chinese Coast Guard ships not only trained water cannons at the Philippine vessels but performed dangerous maneuvers to isolate and surround them as well.
At a press conference, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela said that two boats chartered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)—described by the PCG as "indigenous boats—were on a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre, the rusting Navy ship stationed at the shoal.
The two boats are identified as the “green hull” and “red hull.”
The PCG deployed the BRP Malabrigo and the BRP Cabra as security for the resupply boats. They were set to meet up at nearby Sabina Shoal.
Against the four Philippine vessels were 11 Chinese assets: six Chinese Coast Guard vessels, three People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels, and two Chinese maritime militia vessels.
- Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel 4203
- CCG vessel (CCGV) 5201
- CCG vessel 5402
- CCG vessel 5304
- CCG vessel 5305
- CCG vessel 3302
- People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessel 527
- PLAN vessel 630
- PLAN vessel 629
- Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessel 00001
- CMM vessel 00304
6:22 p.m. The day before the resupply mission, the PCG noted the presence of CCGV 5304 in the area waiting near Sabina Shoal.
6:31 a.m. Two PLAN vessels were spotted 36.5 nautical miles east of Ayungin Shoal.
7:30 a.m. CCGV 5201 coming from Ayungin was spotted.
8:19 a.m. CCGVs 4203, 5201, and 5402 were seen in the area. According to Tarriela, "the objective of all these three CCG vessels is to prevent the PCG vessels from providing security escort to the green hull supply boat."
CCGV 5402 then conducted a "dangerous maneuver" to block BRP Cabra. Its aim was to separate the green hull from the PCG vessel.
“The objective is to separate the PCG vessels from those indigenous boats being used so that they can be able to prevent the PCG from providing escorts to those supply boats,” Tarriela said.
CCGV 4203 also carried out a dangerous maneuver to isolate the red hull.
8:40 a.m. A CCG vessel moved as if to “ram a supply boat from behind,” Tarriela said.
8:48 a.m. PLAN vessel 630 was spotted 18 nautical miles from Ayungin Shoal.
9:13 a.m. CCG vessel 5304 conducted another "dangerous" maneuver near a PCG vessel. According to Tarriela, this was the second time the CCG vessel performed such an action, and the one that came "the closest."
9:44 a.m. The Chinese vessels were able to separate the green hull from BRP Cabra. Tarriela said the green hull was alone after the PCG vessel was corralled by the Chinese vessels.
9:51 a.m. Almost at the same time, CCGVs 4203 and 5305 blasted water cannons at the green hull and its PCG escort.
Binomba ng tubig ng barko ng China Coast Guard ang sasakyang pandagat ng Pilipinas na magsasagawa ng resupply mission sa BRP Sierra Madre.— GMA Integrated News (@gmanews) August 6, 2023
Kinondena ito ng ilang senador kabilang na si Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri. Sa isang pahayag sinabi ni Zubiri na, "this is yet again… pic.twitter.com/I4cmTqYP2k
10:00 a.m. CCGV 5305 again carried out another dangerous maneuver, with the BRP Malabrigo needing to stop to avoid a collision.
10:16 a.m. Taking advantage of the distance of the PCG escort, CCGV 5201 again fired its water cannon at the green hull.
Three PLAN vessels were monitored 13 nautical miles southeast of Ayungin Shoal, appearing to be “waiting for instructions,” according to the PCG official.
10:30 a.m. A CCG vessel again blocked a PCG vessel trying to get near one of the supply boats.
11:00 a.m. The green hull supply boat was able to reach the BRP Sierra Madre.
12:03 p.m. A PCG vessel received a call from red hull requesting to make another attempt to enter Ayungin Shoal. The red hull failed to do so due to the actions of the Chinese vessels.
1:05 p.m. BRP Cabra was still trying to escape from four CCG vessels surrounding her.
4:23 p.m. When the green hull completed its resupply operation in Ayungin Shoal, a PCG vessel escorted it back to Sabina Shoal.
CCGV 3302 also escorted the PCG vessel and green hull as they returned from Ayungin Shoal to Sabina Shoal.
On Sunday, the Chinese Coast Guard said it had taken "necessary controls" against Philippine boats that had "illegally" entered in what it claimed were its waters.
"Two repair ships and two coast guard ships from the Philippines illegally broke into the waters... in China's Nansha Islands," China Coast Guard 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."
Lawmakers condemned the incident, and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri urged President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to bring the issue before the international community.
Philippine allies including the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and the European Union have already decried the event, restating their support for the 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated Beijing's massive claims in the South China Sea.
On Monday, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said a note verbale has been sent to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.
China continues to ignore the ruling, saying it has "perverted law." — BM, GMA Integrated News