PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan (PIA) — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo S. Brawner, Jr. affirms the continuous re-supply missions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) despite the water bombing incident by the Chinese Coast Guard on Philippine ships in the West Philippine Sea on August 5.
Gen. Brawner visited the Western Command (WESCOM) Headquarters yesterday, August 10, 2023, as part of the regular visit by the new AFP Chief of Staff to military camps to ascertain the condition of the nation’s soldiers.
It can be recalled that the BRP Sierra Madre (LS57) which ran aground on Ayungin Shoal has been the area for PH soldiers who guard the island and deliver supplies such as food and water.
“Definitely we are going to pursue our operation and re-supply operations. Itutuloy po natin itong mga re-supply operation natin. As to the schedule, we are leaving that to the Commander of the Western Command. As to the specific actions, and tactics, we are also leaving that to the Commander of Western Command. The important thing that we have to remember here, is that we are supplying, re-supplying our troops who are on board a commissioned ship of the Philippine Navy, ito pong barkong ito ay commissioned pa rin hanggang ngayon and is still flying our Philippine Flag and it is our duty and it is our obligation to bring supplies to our troops who are on board, so hindi po tayo pwedeng pigilin or sabihan kung anong dapat gawin doon, we are operating in fact within our Exclusive Economic Zone, so we will continue our re-supply missions,” assures Gen. Brawner.
In a press conference, Gen. Brawler said that apart from regular visits to military camps, he also went to Palawan to find out what really happened in the West Philippine Sea in relation to the recent water cannon incident on August 5.
“I’m here, especially because of what happened last Saturday, so I can study what really happened and we will see how we can probably change some of our policies or maybe increase more resources into WESCOM,” the general said.
Gen. Brawler added that the AFP strongly condemns the action taken by the Chinese Coast Guard to water bomb Philippine ships in the WPS but it does not condemn China’s relationship with the Philippines because the two countries have diplomatic relations.
“Sa atin naman, ‘nong mangyari ‘yong insidente na ‘yon ay kaagad-agad tayong nagbigay ng statement, hindi lamang ang AFP and even the Philippine Coast Guard at ang sinabi natin, that we are strongly condemning the actions done by the Chinese Coast Guard and the Chinese Militia. ‘Yong actions kino-condemn natin, but not the relations, kasi meron tayong diplomatic relations with the China. In fact, ‘yong economic side natin eh talagang, we defend heavily on China, but when it comes to the military side, meron tayong tinatawag na military diplomacy, so sinusunod natin yon, kaya nga nagpapadala tayo ng mga estudyante abroad sa China para mag-aral doon, that is part of the military diplomacy. Kasi kahit saan ka pumunta sa buong mundo, ang mantra ng mga armed forces is to prevent war, not to encourage war,” added Gen. Brawler.
According to the General, Philippine ships also have water cannons but these are only used to save lives and not in a coercive manner.
“Meron din naman tayong water cannon, doon sa ating mga coast guard ships, even the navy ships pero hindi natin ginamit, kasi we follow the rules, yong water cannon na ‘yan ay ginagamit natin to save lives, kung may sunog ang isang barko ‘yon ang ginagamit natin na pangpatay ng sunog. We don’t used it in a coercive manner, so tayo, sumusunod tayo sa mga batas kaya nga isinusulong natin yung rule base order,” ended Gen. Brawler. (OCJ/PIA MIMAROPA – Palawan)