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China Coast Guard tried to block evacuation of sick soldier at Ayungin — AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Apart from snatching airdropped supplies, the China Coast Guard or CCG also tried to stop the evacuation of a sick soldier from Ayungin Shoal to Palawan last month.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said this incident happened earlier than the rotation and resupply (RORE) mission to the BRP Sierra Madre on May 19.

According to the military, the CCG was able to block the first medical evacuation attempt. A second attempt, aided by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) the following day, was successfully carried out.

“One of our personnel got sick on board the BRP Sierra Madre and we attempted to bring (him) back to Palawan so that he could be treated. Unfortunately, during the first attempt of bringing our soldier out of the Second Thomas Shoal or Ayungin Shoal, they were blocked by the Chinese so we were not able to complete the medical evacuation,” said Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., the Armed Forces chief.

The incident adds to the long list of Chinese harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea with the latest involving the May 19 RORE that saw CCG personnel in inflatable boats competing to retrieve food and supplies airdropped to troops stationed at the Sierra Madre.

Brawner denied accusations that the military pointed their guns at the Chinese but admitted that soldiers manning the old grounded but active warship of the Philippine Navy are armed and have the right to defend themselves guided by the rules of engagement.

“Because of that intent of the CCG to get our supplies, they came very close to the BRP Sierra Madre and from the point of view of our soldiers, this pose a danger, a threat because they were too close. That is why there were videos, there were images of our soldiers carrying their guns. But again, I’d like to emphasize they did not point their guns to the Chinese. We follow the rules of engagement and our soldiers know that,” Brawner stressed.

Rep. Robert Ace Barbers branded the interception of food supplies as a “barbaric act.”

“Its acts are barbaric and has no place in an already civilized world,” Barbers said as he condemned in strongest terms the latest attack on Filipinos protecting the West Philippine Sea.