By Priam Nepomuceno

BULLY. An imposing China Coast Guard vessel (right) trains its water cannon on a Philippine ship in Ayungin Shoal on Sunday (Dec. 10, 2023). Four Philippine ships on regular rotation and resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Made were harassed yet again by the CCG, just a day after three Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources vessels providing humanitarian support to Filipino fisherfolk off Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) were also water cannoned at least eight times. (Photo courtesy of PCG)

MANILA – An official of the National Security Council (NSC) slammed China’s attempt to distort what actually happened in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) over the weekend.

NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya Malaya said China must exercise caution in making accusations without proof.

“China’s claim that the small and wooden UM-1 (Unaizah Mae 1) intentionally rammed a CCG (China Coast Guard) vessel is the height of disinformation and fake news. It’s akin to claiming that a tricycle intentionally rammed a Victory Liner bus on its way to Baguio. We express grave concern over the deliberate disinformation campaign being waged Beijing using official channels,” Malaya said during the Malacañang press briefing on Monday.

Malaya likewise dismissed China’s claims that the United States is provoking the Philippines to lay claim on the WPS.

“The missions to Bajo De Masinloc and Ayungin Shoal are completely Philippine missions utilizing Philippine public vessels and Philippine troops. The United States has no involvement in the missions itself,” he stressed.

CCG and Chinese maritime militia vessels water cannoned Philippine boats and their escorts that were on regular rotation and resupply (RORE) mission to the BRP Sierra Made (LS-57) in Ayungin Shoal on Sunday.

The latest harassment damaged two of four Filipino ships, but the RORE mission was carried out.

Aside from UM-1, the other Philippine vessels involved were M/L Kalayaan, BRP Cabra and BRP Sindangan.

On Saturday morning, three Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources vessels providing humanitarian support to Filipino fisherfolk off Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) were also water cannoned at least eight times by CCG ships while a long-range acoustic device caused severe temporary discomfort and incapacitation to some Filipino crew.

Malaya said the systematic and consistent manner in which China carries out illegal and irresponsible actions puts into question and significantly doubt the sincerity of its calls for peaceful dialogue.

“We demand that China demonstrates once and for all that it is a responsible and trustworthy member of the international community. And we thank the international community for their expressions of support at this time,” he said.

Malaya maintained the Philippines will not be deterred in exercising its legal rights over its maritime zones.

“As clearly stated by the President in his statement last (Sunday) night, the Philippines will never be deterred from exercising our legal rights over our maritime zones, including Bajo De Masinloc and Ayungin Shoal, which forms part of our exclusive economic zone and continental shelf,” he said. (PNA)