Defense Minister Lorenzana “Two supply ships departing from Palawan… Plan to contact the Marines”
Duterte expresses regret over recent events
The Philippines has resumed supplying military supplies in its waters in the South China Sea, where water cannon attacks by Chinese ships have occurred.
Philippine Defense Secretary Delphine Lorenzana announced on the 22nd that two military supply ships headed for the Second Thomas Reef area departed from Palawan the night before.
The supply ships escorted by the warships will sail through the night to provide supplies to the Marines stationed in the reef area, he added.
Earlier, Lorenzana had instructed military authorities the day before to resend military supplies to the Second Thomas Reef area, Reuters reported.
He said he continued to have conversations with the Chinese ambassador after the incident, adding that “China will not interfere this time.”
Philippine military western commander Ramil Roberto Enriquez said the number of Chinese ships near Second Thomas Reef was reduced from three to two and the fishing boats disappeared.
Earlier on the 16th, three Chinese ships fired water cannons at a Philippine military supply ship near Second Thomas Reef.
The Philippine Foreign Ministry strongly protested against the Chinese ambassador to Manila and urged the ship to be withdrawn immediately.
The United States, an ally of the Philippines, has also put pressure on China.
State Department spokeswoman Ned Price said in a statement on the 19th (local time) that “the mutual defense treaty between the two countries could apply to armed attacks on public ships in the Philippines.”
China countered that the trespassing of Philippine ships was a legitimate execution of official duties.
“Two Filipino supply ships trespassed into Renaijiao (仁愛礁, Second Thomas Reef) without China’s consent,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian said at a regular briefing on the 18th. “We have defended China’s sovereignty and maritime order,” he said.
Located 195 km from Palawan Island, Second Thomas Reef is located in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Philippines has deployed some military personnel and warships here since 1999.
China has drawn nine lines (gudan lines) in the shape of a U in the South China Sea, claiming that 90% of it is its territorial waters.
On the other hand, in 2016, the Permanent Court of the International Court (PCA) ruled that China’s claim had no basis under international law.
The South China Sea is an economic and military strategic point where neighboring countries such as Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Vietnam each claim their sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his deep regret to China over the incident.
“We hate the recent incident in Ayungin (Filipino name for Second Thomas Reef),” he said at the China-ASEAN summit, which was videotaped today, “and we are looking very seriously at a series of similar issues.” .
It is not known whether Chinese President Xi Jinping was present at the moment Duterte made these remarks.
However, when it was his turn to speak, Xi suggested that “let’s work together to keep the South China Sea stable and become a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation,” the news agency reported.