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US, EU envoys express concern over China's latest actions vs. PH vessels in WPS

The ambassadors of the United States and European Union on Sunday expressed concern after China blocked a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

"The [US flag] stands with the Philippines and partners in vehemently condemning the PRC’s repeated illegal and dangerous actions against [Philippine flag] vessels, including disrupting the [Philippine flag] resupply mission to the Sierra Madre today," US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said in a post on X.

"PRC aggression undermines regional stability in defiance of a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific," she added.

"Another deeply troubling incident today, water cannons used again. UNCLOS dispute settlement mechanisms maintain the rule of law. The 2016 UNCLOS Tribunal Award is a valuable framework for peaceful resolution. Water cannons and dangerous sea maneuvers aren't a legitimate alternative," EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron said in a post on X.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Sunday said the China Coast Guard (CCG) rammed and water cannoned Philippine vessels on a regular rotation and resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre.

The PCG said its own vessel BRP Cabra, and resupply boats Unaizah Mae 1 (UM 1) and M/L Kalayaan were water cannoned by CCG.

M/L Kalayaan suffered from serious engine damage as a result and had to be towed back to Ulugan Bay, Palawan by the PCG vessel BRP Sindangan, it added.

The UM 1 meanwhile was rammed by CCG, PCG spokesperson Jay Tarriela said.

Despite this, the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said UM1 was able to successfully reach BRP Sierra Madre to proceed with the resupply.

The NTF-WPS condemned the “reckless and dangerous harassment at close range” of Chinese vessels once again against Philippine civilian supply vessels conducting a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre.

It denounced China’s latest attack, admitting that it has put into question and “significant doubt” the sincerity of China’s calls for peaceful dialogue.

Ayungin Shoal is in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and continental shelf under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and as upheld by the 2016 Arbitral Award.

The NTF-WPS stressed that the Philippines will not be deterred from exercising legal rights over its own maritime zones.

China however said it does not accept or recognize the Philippines' South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal ruling from 2016, which concluded Beijing's claim to almost the entire South China Sea was groundless.

"With its ruling, the tribunal violated the principle of state consent, went beyond its authority to hear the case and perverted law," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbing said last July. —KG, GMA Integrated News