Chinese vessels blocked, fired water cannon on PH boats in Ayungin Shoal

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 18) — Three Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and fired water cannon on two Philippine boats en route to transport supplies to military personnel in Ayungin Shoal on Nov. 16, government officials said on Thursday.

National Security Adviser and National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea chair Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said two Chinese vessels blocked the Philippines' boats, while another one of its vessels blasted a water cannon for an hour.

No one was hurt, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, but the Philippine boats had to abort their mission to bring food.

Locsin also said he talked to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi to condemn and protest the incident since Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group, which the Philippines considers part of Palawan province.

"I reminded China that a public vessel is covered by the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty. The acts of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels are illegal. China has no law enforcement rights in and around these areas. They must take heed and back off," he said in a statement.

He warned that China's "failure to exercise self-restraint threatens" the warm ties between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it will continue to provide supplies to troops in Ayungin Shoal.

"We do not ask permission to do what we need to do in our territory," Locsin said.

The Kalayaan Island Group is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The Philippines said it has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the island group. However, China has been claiming the area through a historic nine-dash line, which a 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling has invalidated.

Increasing Chinese presence in PH waters

Esperon expressed alarm after more of Beijing's vessels were spotted in Ayungin Shoal and Pag-asa Island. He said there are usually only two Chinese maritime militia in the area of Ayungin, but the number increased to 19 in the past week. In Pag-Asa Island, the number of Chinese vessels spiked to 45 — which the official described as a "record number."

"Very aggressive sila so we are protesting that... Some of them remain there, hindi sila umaalis dyan, maaring mabawasan, maaring mabawasan but last week umabot sila ng 45, masyadong marami," he said in an interview.

[Translation: They are too aggressive so we are protesting that. Some of them remain there. The number may go down. but last week it reached 45. That's too much.]

He said the DFA has been continuously filing diplomatic protests for China's incursions in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines has filed over 150 this year alone.


Lawmakers and local officials expressed outrage over the outright disrespect for Philippine territory.

Kalayaan Vice Mayor Hermoso Ornopia said he will lead the passing of a resolution to "condemn in the highest terms" the militia's harassing actions.

"Hindi tama na tayo ay aapihin sa ating sariling bakuran. Habang ginagalang natin ang karapatan ng atin mga kapitbansa, ay atin din namang marapat ipaglaban ang ating soberanya," he said.

[Translation: It's not right that we are being oppressed in our own territory. Although we respect the rights of our neighboring countries, we must continue to fight for our sovereignty.]

Reelectionist Senator Risa Hontiveros showed supposed for the DFA's move to protest China's "incessant bullying."

CNN Philippines' Lara Tan, Tristan Nodalo, and David Santos contributed to this report.