By Filane Mikee Cervantes

DANGER AT SEA. Philippine Coast Guard Commodore Jay Tarriela, National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea spokesperson, grants an ambush interview at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Friday (June 21, 2024). He narrated that injured Filipino soldiers going to Ayungin Shoal were rescued only after 12 hours as China Coast Guard vessels would not allow the PCG during the June 17 confrontation. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – Due to “dangerous maneuvers and harassment” by the China Coast Guard (CCG), it took the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) about 12 hours to rescue Filipino troops during the June 17 ramming incident in Ayungin Shoal, an official said on Friday.

National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) spokesperson, Commodore Jay Tarriela, said the PCG deployed its multi-role response vessels BRP Cabra and BRP Bagacay to recover the rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) towed by the CCG and to perform medical evacuation for the injured military personnel aboard the BRP Sierra Madre.

“It’s because we learned about the injured AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) personnel as early as 10 a.m. We were able to retrieve the damage RHIB around 12 noon. So it took us two hours for us to really safekeep our damaged RHIB,” Tarriela said in an interview at Malacañan Palace in Manila.

“And then for the AFP personnel who were injured, it’s only around 10:30 (p.m.) na nakuha natin ‘yung injured nating (that we reached our injured) AFP personnel,” he added.

Tarriela noted that despite the PCG’s efforts to coordinate with the CCG to retrieve the injured Filipino soldier, they were still subjected to dangerous maneuvers and harassment.

 “We were also coordinating with CCG informing them that there are injured AFP personnel onboard BRP Sierra Madre, and that we intend to carry out a medical evacuation, but still despite that advisory and radio call on the part of Philippine Coast Guard vessels, we were still subjected to those harassment from the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Navy and Chinese Coast Guard,” he said.

The June 17 resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) was disrupted by the CCG officers who boarded, looted and damaged the Philippine military’s RHIBs; destroyed the communications and navigation equipment of one of the crafts, along with some personal items of its crew members; and threatening Filipinos with pointed and bladed weapons.

AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. earlier said China’s increasingly aggressive actions will not prevent the Philippines from carrying out rotation and resupply (RORE) missions to its troops in the WPS.

“That is our obligation and that is our right. We will not leave Ayungin Shoal,” Brawner said in a message to reporters. (PNA)