MANILA - Officials of the Kalayaan Municipal Office say they were prevented from visiting Ayungin Shoal by the Chinese Coast Guard.
The incident took place on the first of August when the officials headed to the shoal to prepare for an upcoming visit by the mayor of Kalayaan.
The group also brought supplies for soldiers stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre.
But a Chinese Coast Guard vessel numbered 3111 allegedly stopped 20-30 meters from their boat and tried to block them.
They were forced to pass through shallower waters where the larger Chinese vessel could not follow, eventually making it to the shoal.
"Pagod na pagod ka na at basa ka ng 24 hours biglang haharangin ka pa ng Chinese Coast Guard. May tinatawag tayong freedom of navigation sa dagat. Nakakabahala lang dahil sa freedom of innocent passage, dapat makakarating ka sa pupuntahan mo ng walang gagambala," Kalayaan executive assistant Joey Vincent Rabanal said.
"Pinili na lang namin yung medyo mababaw na ruta para di sila makahabol kasi mas malaki barko nila e."
China has reportedly expanded its maritime patrols in the area to protect its fishing boats following the arrest of 11 Chinese fishermen near the shoal last May.
This has sparked concern among Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
"Medyo kinakabahan na rin sila kasi nagiging mas agresibo," he said.