Manila, Philippines – The leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stated that the restraint shown by Philippine Navy (PN) personnel was crucial in preventing further escalation during a recent confrontation with the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. The incident, which involved “reckless and illegal” actions by the CCG, resulted in injuries to several PN personnel and the vandalization of Philippine government equipment.

According to Philippines News Agency, the incident occurred while Philippine Navy personnel were delivering supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre crew. Despite the hostile actions from the CCG, which included hijacking and destroying Philippine vessels within the exclusive economic zone, the Filipino troops managed to maintain high morale and prevent the situation from deteriorating. Gen. Brawner highlighted the severe injuries sustained by one Navy personnel and lesser injuries to at least seven others, condemning these as violations of international maritime law and Philippine sovereignty.

During a press conference, Brawner emphasized that the presence and activities of Chinese vessels within Philippine territory are the core issues escalating tensions in the area. He recounted visiting the PN personnel involved in the incident, including a Naval Special Operations Group soldier who lost a finger during the confrontation, identified only as Seaman 1st class Facundo. All involved were awarded medals for their bravery.

Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres, Jr., head of the Western Command, detailed that the PN personnel are required to keep their firearms in cases during these missions to reduce tensions, a policy the CCG exploited by seizing weapons and damaging equipment. Despite this, Torres praised the PN personnel for their firmness and resilience under illegal boarding by the CCG forces.

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