By Priam Nepomuceno

National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya (center)

MANILA – The resupply efforts for Philippine detachments in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) will continue despite the continued aggression of Chinese vessels against such missions, National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said Monday.

“We will just continue to do what we are supposed to be doing, which is implementing the 2016 Arbitral Award, kasi tinatanong ng karamihan (a lot of people are asking) how would the Philippines implement the Arbitral Award. (We do this) by exercising our rights, our sovereign rights, so patuloy lang po ‘yung ating (so we will continue our) resupply whether it is Ayungin Shoal, whether it is in Rizal Reef, kahit may harassment hindi na galing sa (even if there are other harassment coming aside from the) Chinese Coast Guard but coming from the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Navy (as well),” Malaya said in the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing.

On Sunday, the Philippine Navy (PN) bared that transport vessel BRP Benguet was tailed and harassed by a Chinese vessel (PLAN 621) while enroute to Rizal Reef on a routine resupply mission on Oct. 13.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the BRP Benguet issued consecutive radio challenges to PLAN 621 after it “shadowed the former at an 80-yard distance and attempted to cross LS-507’s bow with a CPA (closest point of approach) of 350 yards at 5.8 nautical miles southwest of Pag-asa Island.”

Malaya said PN personnel will not be deterred by the harassments.

“They will continue to do what is necessary to supply our people,” he added.

He also questioned China’s law enforcement efforts in the WPS as the Permanent Court of Arbitration already dismissed its claims over the entire South China Sea.

“We will continue to resupply our people and we will continue to support our fishermen na nangingisda sa (fishing in the) WPS,” the NSC official stressed.

AFP chief, UK envoy discuss WPS

As this developed, AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. and United Kingdom (UK) Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils on Monday met and discussed the two nations’ efforts to enhance defense partnership amid pressing issues in the WPS.

Brawner welcomed Beaufils during his visit to the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

“The two agreed on being more vocal in common defense and diplomatic positions particularly in the situation in the WPS and agreed to explore other means to demonstrate and enhance the partnership between the Philippines and the UK,” AFP public affairs office chief, Lt. Col. Enrico Gil Ileto said in a statement.

“The Ambassador also shared that London notices the ‘strong position and bold moves’ being made by the present administration in addressing the security challenges in the WPS amid China’s dangerous, coercive, illegal, and disruptive actions,” he added.

Beaufils said the collective effort of like-minded nations to shed light on what is happening in the region resonates with the UK. 

Brawner likewise thanked the British envoy for their government’s non-military assistance and support like UNCLOS education and in confronting climate and environmental issues. (PNA)