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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Troops ready for ‘consequences’ of defending Phl territory

By Alexis Romero 
The Philippine Star
Philippine Marines, who were deployed five months ago on board the dilapidated navy ship LT57 BRP Sierra Madre off the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, on the South China Sea, take their oath of allegiance as they are awarded the Bronze Cross medal by Western Command Chief Lt.Gen. Roy Deveraturda upon arrival at a naval base Monday March 31, 2014 in Palawan western Philippines. On Saturday, China Coast Guard attempted to block the Philippine government vessel AM700 carrying fresh troops to relieved the nine marines as well as supplies, but the latter successfully managed to dock beside the ship housing the troops. AP
Philippine Marines, who were deployed five months ago on board the dilapidated navy ship LT57 BRP Sierra Madre off the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, on the South China Sea, take their oath of allegiance as they are awarded the Bronze Cross medal by Western Command Chief Lt.Gen. Roy Deveraturda upon arrival at a naval base Monday March 31, 2014 in Palawan western Philippines. On Saturday, China Coast Guard attempted to block the Philippine government vessel AM700 carrying fresh troops to relieved the nine marines as well as supplies, but the latter successfully managed to dock beside the ship housing the troops. AP
CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City – Despite warnings from China, the military is ready to face any consequence for protecting the Philippines’ sovereignty over the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said no provocative act was committed when they sent supplies to Filipino troops securing the area.
“We will be ready for any consequence. The fact that we pursued with our case, that means that we’ll be prepared to suffer any consequences of that,” Bautista said on the sidelines of the anniversary of the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command Tuesday.
“That (delivery of supplies) will continue. We will assert our sovereignty in that place,” he added.
Bautista said China, not the Philippines, is the one committing provocative acts because it has been blocking supplies bound for BRP Sierra Madre, a grounded ship that serves as a military installation in Ayungin Shoal.
The dilapidated and rusty vessel manned by Marine troops is the symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the area.
“We just wanted to re-supply our people using civilian ships. They (China) are the ones provocative there. They block the supplies with Coast Guard vessels,” Bautista said.
“We will stand our ground, we will stand by our actions, we will assert our sovereignty (and) our rights.”
On Saturday, a Philippine ship tasked to bring vital supplies to Filipino soldiers in BRP Sierra Madre was blocked by two Chinese ships and was told that it was encroaching into China’s territory.
The civilian ship managed to evade the larger Chinese vessels and was able to deliver the much-needed supplies to the troops.
China accused the Philippines of causing tensions when the latter delivered supplies to Filipino soldiers in Ayungin Shoal in Palawan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei claimed that the Philippines’ action was meant to conceal its plan to occupy Beijing’s territory.
“The Philippine side will certainly face consequences for its provocative actions,” Hong said in a press conference in Beijing Monday.
Hong maintained that China would not participate in the arbitration proceedings that stemmed from a case filed by the Philippines before an international tribunal.
Bautista stressed that the Philippines has every right to support its soldiers in the shoal, which is within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
“We cannot just bow to terror,” Bautista said.
“We have to assert our rights and they are doing it in a very peaceful manner,” he added.
Bautista also commended the nine Marines who guarded the shoal for five months.
The soldiers have been replaced with a new batch of troops and have been given a two-week vacation.
“We salute our Marines and we salute our sailors for a job well done for continuing to defend our territory,” the military chief said.

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