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NSC warns vs planned 'Christmas convoy' at Ayungin Shoal

MANILA, Philippines — The National Security Council (NSC) opposed the civilian-led "Christmas convoy" on BRP Sierra Madre amid heightened tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the NSC appreciated efforts to boost soldier morale at Ayungin Shoal but cautioned against visits due to persistent high tensions between the Philippines and China in the region.

“While we support, in principle, the intent of the 'Atin Ito' coalition to bring holiday cheer to our WPS frontliners, undertaking such a convoy to Ayungin Shoal at this time of heightened tensions between the Philippines and China is ill-advised,” the NSC said in a statement.

Organizers from the "Atin Ito" coalition confirm a civilian-led Christmas convoy on December 5, aiming to sail with at least 40 boats to the Ayungin Shoal.

During a press conference on Monday, the coalition acknowledged the NSC's discouragement but emphasized the necessity of supply missions of all types.

“We are convinced that our mission is founded on the ideals of peace, solidarity, and a real desire to respond to the pressing needs of our fisherfolk and frontliners,” the coalition said. 

“Let us normalize civilian voyages to the West Philippine Sea. For each act of Chinese aggression, the Philippines must respond with more supply missions,” it added.

Tensions often rise at Ayungin Shoal as Chinese vessels try to block routine resupply missions to BRP Sierra Madre.

Just last month, several incidents of dangerous maneuvers and water canon incidents have occured during routine and resupply missions (RORE) missions, which include the ramming of an AFP-contracted civilian vessel.

“Our troops in Ayungin Shoal are well supplied by the Philippine Navy-AFP supported by the Philippine Coast Guard through the regular RORE missions. There is, therefore, no need for a civilian Christmas convoy mission at this time,” the NSC said.

Statement of the National Security Council

“The National Security Council does not support the planned Christmas Convoy to BRP Sierra Madre (LS 57) in Ayungin Shoal or any similar undertaking to the said shoal.

“While we support, in principle, the intent of the "Atin Ito"…