ABOARD THE BRP MELCHORA AQUINO – It’s a sight to behold – perhaps not in a good way. In an area in the West Philippine Sea well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Philippines’ was vastly outnumbered against China in another routine resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.
The Philippines deployed five vessels – the 97-meter BRP Melchora Aquino, the 44-meter BRP Cabra and BRP Sindangan, and two military-contracted boats that carried much-needed supplies for Marines stationed in the BRP Sierra Madre.
China, meanwhile, deployed 11 – five China Coast Guard vessels and six from the Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM). The ratio is worse if you count the CMM vessels that didn’t join in harassing Philippine ships and the five Chinese navy ships that were monitored in the area – 38 Chinese vessels to the Philippines’ five.
Yet the Philippine Coast Guard and the two resupply ships made it to the BRP Sierra Madre – a decades-old symbol of the Philippines’ resolve to assert its rights in the West Philippine Sea. The rusty World War II-era ship is also a stark reminder that time is running out, and that more long-term plans are needed.
Rappler was one of several media groups that embedded with the PCG during the Friday, November 10 mission. – Rappler.com
Reporter: Bea Cupin
Production specialist: Jon Vic Digma
Video editor: Jaene Zaplan
Producer: Cara Angeline Oliver
Supervising producer: Beth Frondoso