Filtered By: Topstories

PH Navy official: We have right to maintain BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal

PH Navy official: We have right to maintain BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal

The Philippine Navy on Sunday stood firm that it has the right to maintain the decrepit BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57), which is grounded at the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Roy Trinidad made this assertion in a Super Radyo dzBB interview, affirming that Filipino forces will make necessary repairs on the World War II-era tank landing ship regardless of what China says.

“Ito ay commissioned vessel ng Philippine Navy. Mandato ng Philippine Navy na i-maintain natin. Hindi naman pupuwedeng basta-basta lang pabayaan natin para malusaw o bumagsak na lang basta-basta,” the Navy official said.

(BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned vessel of the Philippine Navy. The Philippine Navy has a mandate to maintain it. We can't just leave it there to disintegrate.)

The BRP Sierra Madre has been aground at the Ayungin Shoal since 1999. The ship’s crew is composed of a dozen marines and sailors, which has become a symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

Despite this, China has demanded the removal of the BRP Sierra Madre in what it calls Ren’ai Jiao.

Last Tuesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) released a video showing Chinese in small boats "snatching" the supplies it airdropped to Filipino troops on the BRP Sierra Madre. The AFP also said that the Chinese used "dangerous" maneuvers after steering "very close" to Filipino personnel.

On Friday, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson for WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela also reported that China Coast Guard vessels intentionally rammed a Philippine Navy rigid hull inflatable boat despite informing the Chinese side about the humanitarian nature of the mission.

The mission was to evacuate an AFP personnel member stationed in the BRP Sierra Madre, who was sick and needed immediate medical attention.

Trinidad said there were three crewmen who became ill, but they have since recovered.

“Nabigyan naman sila ng tamang gamot at pinagpahinga sila. Hindi naman serious ang kanilang kalagayan,” he said.

(They were given the proper medicine and are now resting. Their respective conditions are not serious.)

For its part, the PCG said it is working with the AFP in coming up with innovative ways to support Filipino troops aboard the BRP Sierra Madre.

In the face of current challenges, Tarriela on Sunday said that they will continue “holding the line” in the region for the next generation.

“The most important part of what we are doing right now is that we are holding the line. We are not giving up our position in the West Philippine Sea—and that’s what really matters,” he said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

“We believe na ang ginagawa nating ito [that what we’re doing] is a fight for the next generation of Filipinos. We need to hold the line for this so that the next generation of Filipinos will still learn about this, will still be aware of what we’re fighting for, and for them to continue fighting,” he maintained.

GMA News Online has reached out to the Chinese Embassy in Manila for their side on the matter.
—RF/KG, GMA Integrated News