PH resupply mission to Ayungin now underway: Lorenzana

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (File photo)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Delfin Lorenzana on Monday confirmed that the vessels conducting the resupply mission for Filipino troops stationed aboard the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea have already left Palawan.

"The resupply ships left this morning from Oyster Bay in Palawan and will reach (BRP) Sierra Madre tomorrow (Tuesday morning). The Chinese Ambassador (Huang Xilian) assured me they will not be impeded. Pero pakiusap nila, walang escort (they only requested that the boats will not be escorted)," he said in a message to reporters.

Asked if this condition will allow Chinese ships in the area to harass the incoming supply boats, Lorenzana replied: "We will see."

Asked whether the Philippine military is in constant communication with the crew to check on their conditions, the DND chief replied in the affirmative.

"Yes, they are. (A Philippine) Navy plane will be in the vicinity when the resupply ships are in Ayungin," he said.

He added that the boats harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard last week were also the ones that departed for the resupply mission.

"The same boats. The damaged one was (already) repaired," he added.

On Sunday, Lorenzana said China will not interfere anymore with the resupply mission, following talks with the Chinese envoy.

The Western Command earlier reported that three Chinese Coast Guard vessels “blocked and water cannoned” two Philippine supply boats or "bancas" on November 16.

No one was hurt but the Philippine vessels, which were identified as Unaiza Mae 1 and 3, had to abort their mission after one of them had its outrigger damaged by the water cannon. (PNA)

Source: Business Diary Philippines

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