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China vessels blocked, rammed PH boat on medical evacuation in WPS —PCG

China Coast Guard vessels and boats had blocked and rammed Philippine boats performing medical evacuation in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Friday. 

“Despite informing the Chinese Coast Guard via radio and public address system about the humanitarian nature of our mission for medical evacuation, they still engaged in dangerous maneuvers and even intentionally rammed the Philippine Navy Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat,” PCG spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said in a statement. 

"The CCG intentionally rammed as we transfer the personnel from the PN RHIB. The rendezvous point is at 15.43 nautical miles southeast off northeast Entrance of Ayungin Shoal,” he added.

According to Tariella, the sick individual was a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who was deployed at BRP Sierra Madre.

The incident took place on May 19 but the PCG released videos of it only on Friday. Tarriela said the PCG released the report just now because the AFP recently mentioned the incident.

Despite China’s actions, Tarriela said the PCG and Philippine Navy successfully outmaneuvered the foreign boats and vessels and completed the medical evacuation of the sick Filipino to Buliluyan Port. 

“At 1515H on 19 May 2024, the sick AFP personnel was transported to the nearest hospital and received immediate medical attention,” Tarriela said.

'Barbaric, inhumane behavior'

He called out China’s “barbaric” and “inhumane behavior” as well as its “excessive deployment” of two China Coast Guard vessels 21551 and 21555, two small boats, and two rubber boats during the medical evacuation.

“Their actions clearly demonstrated their intention to prevent the sick personnel from receiving the proper medical attention he urgently needed,” Tarriela said. 

Armed Forces chief General Romeo Brawner said on Tuesday the first attempt to transport the sick soldier to the western province of Palawan failed after they were blocked by the Chinese.

Another attempt was made the next day with the help of the Philippine Coast Guard and the soldier was successfully evacuated, Brawner said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday it will allow the Philippines to deliver supplies and evacuate personnel if Manila notifies Beijing ahead of a mission.

"However, the Philippines may not use this as an excuse to transport materials of construction to its naval vessels in an attempt to permanently occupy Ren'ai Jiao," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a briefing.

China refers to the Second Thomas Shoal as Ren'ai Jiao.

China claims parts of the South China Sea, including what the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea.

In 2016, an international arbitration tribunal in the Hague said China’s claim over the West Philippine Sea has no legal basis, but Beijing did not honor the decision.

Chinese state media Xinhua News Agency earlier reported that the Philippine Navy has destroyed fishing nets set by Chinese fisherfolk in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal. It added the Navy pulled 100 meters of fishing net onto the “illegal beach warship” BRP Sierra Madre after the Chinese fisherfolk left.

The Philippine military, meanwhile, said China's recent claim that the Philippine Navy destroyed its fishing nets in Ayungin Shoal was another example of its "malign influence operation."

“It seeks to distract from the real issue at hand: their ongoing illegal, coercive, aggressive, and deceptive actions and activities in the West Philippine Sea,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Colonel Francel Margerath Padilla said. — with Reuters/KBK/RSJ, GMA Integrated News