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Brawner on latest China harassment: Galit na galit ako

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. on Monday said he believes China was unaware of his presence on the boat that Chinese vessels rammed and water cannoned over the weekend — actions that he said infuriated him.

"Of course, galit na galit ako doon sa nangyari (what happened infuriated me)," Brawner told Dobol B TV in an interview.

"Naniniwala ako na hindi alam ng Chinese na ako ‘yung nandoon sa Unaizah Mae 1 kaya't ganoon ‘yung nangyari, hindi sila nagbago ng taktika. Bagama’t ay nag-increase pa ‘yung kanilang aggressive actions," he added, referring to the name of the boat he was on.

(I believed that the Chinese did not know I was on Unaizah Mae, that's why they did not change their tactics. Instead, they further increased their aggressive actions.)

Chinese vessels water cannoned and rammed Unaizah Mae 1 and other Philippine vessels during a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal on Sunday.

Aside from Unaizah Mae 1, M/L Kalayaan sustained engine damage due to the water cannon attack.

Brawner said he was not hurt following the incident, which is the latest in China's aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Despite the incident, Brawner and other top Philippine military officials were able to set foot in BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II ship that has been grounded at the Ayungin Shoal since 1999 and stands as symbol of the Philippines' claim to WPS.

Brawner said he also relayed the message of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to the troops manning BRP Sierra Madre acknowledging their efforts in protecting the sovereign rights of the country.

Citing the troops stationed in the vessel, Brawner said China's actions became more aggressive as it has deployed more ships to the WPS.

On Saturday, a Chinese coast guard vessel also fired water cannon at the vessels of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) headed to Scarborough Shoal to distribute oil and other supplies to fisherfolk in the area.

In light of these incidents, Brawner said he and Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. will meet with the National Task Force on the WPS and National Task Force on Maritime Security to discuss the country's next possible moves. —KBK, GMA Integrated News