Philippine Coast Guard says China harassed, obstructed resupply mission ships in Spratlys

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has enforced allegations on China of shadowing and agitating two ships directing boats on a resupply mission for Philippine Navy troops stationed at the Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed South China Sea. PCG spokesman Jay Tarriela on Wednesday conveyed the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) conducted “angry actions” in opposition to the BRP Malabrigo and the BRP Malapascua last Friday while the ships were directing boats providing supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre.

The BRP Sierra Madre is a broken down  World War II-era Philippine Navy ship that was deliberately grounded in the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands in 1999 to support reinforce Manila’s power claims over the disputed waterway. “It looks like the Chinese Coast Guard vessels were exerting extra attempt to hinder the PCG from reaching Ayungin Shoal,” Commodore Tarriela said, using Manila’s term for the shoal. He said PCG ships were “immediately followed, ridiculed, and hindered” by the bigger CCG vessels, which steered within about 90m of the Philippine ships and tried to “hinder passage and discourage” them from reaching Second Thomas Shoal.

He said the PCG also took notice of two Chinese Navy ships near the shoal, which is  discovered within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). “This is particularly scary, as the Philippine Navy’s naval operation is mainly humanitarian in nature. Instead of this, the Chinese have utilized their warships, growing even bigger and serious concerns,” said Commodore Tarriela. China, however, has denied to take notice of the ruling and has built up its military and artificial island-building activities in the disputed sea. Over the years, Chinese vessels have also hindered Filipino ships and fishermen from reaching the area.