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Facing the bully

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China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea, directed against Philippine vessels en route to Ayungin Shoal to deliver supplies for Filipino forces, has once again attracted the international community with its brazenness.

“The US stands with the Philippines and partners in vehemently condemning the PRC’s repeated illegal and dangerous actions against Philippine vessels, including disrupting the Philippine resupply mission to the Sierra Madre today,” US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

European Union Ambassador Luc Veron expressed concern over the “deeply troubling” incidents and said the firing of water cannons and dangerous sea maneuvers by the China Coast Guard (CCG) is not a legitimate alternative.

Veron said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea  (UNCLOS) dispute settlement mechanisms maintain the rule of law.

The Philippine Coast Guard reported that the CCG assaulted three Filipino vessels with water cannons and rammed one of them, causing serious damage. The three vessels were on a routine rotation and resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre stationed at Ayungin Shoal.

The ambassadors of New Zealand, Australia, and France also expressed concern.

“UNCLOS was signed exactly 41 years ago, December 10th, 1982. Today more than ever recalls the value of international law to ensure freedom of navigation and is, once again, seriously concerned by the use of water cannons in the EEZ (exclusive economic zone) to prevent a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre,” French Ambassador Marie Fontanel posted.

The international community is already standing behind the Philippines, and yet China continues its aggressive and dangerous behavior, and it still seems like our government remains powerless when it comes to dealing with the neighborhood bully. Are we going to wait for Filipinos to be killed or do we need to do more – diplomatically, legally, politically, and even militarily – to stop this blatant disrespect of our territorial and sovereign rights as a nation, before it’s too late?*

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