Philippine Navy to send civilian vessels anew to Ayungin

Posted at 03/13/14 9:18 PM

MANILA - A security official said the Philippine Navy will have to send civilian vessels anew to the Ayungin Shoal or risk letting soldiers stationed there die of hunger and thirst.

The official, who asked not to be named, declined to say when this will be done. "I cannot tell you about the specific date, but what I can tell you is that's definite. It’s not that we're trying to court China's ire. We do not want to starve our people to death.”

Days ago, the Chinese Coast Guard blocked Filipino vessels approaching the shoal, known internationally as Second Thomas Shoal, thinking they were bringing in construction materials.

The Department of Foreign Affairs blasted China’s latest provocation, saying the ships only brought food and water for the Philippine soldiers staying at the rusty BRP Sierra Madre that ran aground at the shoal in 1999.

The officials said a small Navy plane airdropped drinking water for the troops last Monday, but the gallons delivered may not be enough. He said the water supply may last only 3 to 4 days.

He added, "Our concern is if they were properly dropped because the gallons [containers] could break if not properly dropped.”

He added, "We have no information if they got the water but we would like to assume they got it."

The source also said the Navy will not be sending gray ships so as not to heighten the already tense situation.

"If we do a toe-to-toe, we'll just have a problem. We might be blamed for it. We do not want that happening. We know that the situation is tense and we will send a gray ship? We do not want to do that," he said.

Nonetheless, the official slammed China for claiming that the Philippines is undertaking construction there.

"We are abiding by the rules or by the agreement that there will be no construction. But through the years, who’s the one that greatly developed their held territory, isn't it China?" he said.

He said the Navy is concerned the Philippines is losing Ayungin to China. Still, “as much as we are concerned, we are calibrating our action in the sense that we do not want to escalate the situation further.”