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AFP: Plan in place to stop Chinese meddling in WPS resupply missions

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has a plan to stop or reduce Chinese interference in its resupply missions to its outposts in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), its spokesman said Saturday, as he slammed China’s latest “indisputable sovereignty” claim over the Spratly Islands.

AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said in a press briefing that the interference of Chinese vessels inside the country’s exclusive economic zone “should not become the norm” even as he was tight-lipped on how the Armed Forces would proceed with its plan.

ENVOY AS OBSERVER. Philippine Special Envoy to China for Special Concerns Teodoro Locsin Jr. (right) talks to a Philippine Coast Guard officer as he joined the resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, where he personally witnessed Chinese vessels’ maneuvers against local ships.

“We don’t want to telegraph our plan because it is a matter of national security,” Aguilar said while guaranteeing that Filipino soldiers deployed in the WPS are “very much inspired” at the moment.

“First, because of the completed supply missions. Second, because of the support they are hearing from almost all Filipinos, and for the international community for standing by the Philippines in its position on matters concerning the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“The morale of our troops in the West Philippine Sea is high and they are determined to work harder to make sure the interest of the country is protected,” Aguilar said.

Meanwhile, China’s use of the word “indisputable” for islands in the WPS “is disputable,” the spokesman added.

Beijing recently condemned a mission by four Philippine ships to resupply Filipino troops in Ayungin Shoal, which is part of the Spratly Islands or Ren’ai Reef to China.

“For one, the UNCLOS says no to its claim. Second, the arbitral award invalidated it. Third is several countries have expressed their support to the Philippines and to the rules-based international order, while no one has openly supported China in its actions at the WPS,” Aguilar added.

China’s “unfounded” claim and its “offensive and irresponsible” actions in the WPS led to the country’s global isolation, he added.

Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr., the Philippine Special Envoy to China, was onboard one of the vessels that escorted the latest resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre last Wednesday.

Locsin, who was on board the BRP Cabra, was seen observing and taking photos of the Chinese maritime militia blocking the Philippine vessels on the way to the Sierra Madre.

Locsin, the Foreign Secretary under the Duterte administration which had warm relations with China, declined to share his observations with the media.

President Marcos in August appointed Locsin as his special envoy to China.

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