Ayungin supply drops to continue

By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 19 2014 03:27 AM | Updated as of Mar 19 2014 11:27 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will continue to send supplies to its troops on Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal despite fresh warnings from China, which has set up a naval blockade in the area.

A security official said the Philippines has the right to support its military forces on the shoal as the area is well within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“We reiterate that (Ayungin Shoal) is within our EEZ. It is but our duty to provide for our own troops. These are Filipino settlements,” said the official, who requested anonymity because of lack of authority to talk on the matter.

The official said the Philippines has been abiding by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which seeks to resolve the territorial dispute peacefully.

China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the declaration in 2002 but specific and binding guidelines have yet to be approved.

On Monday, China demanded the Philippines pull out its troops from Ayungin Shoal, calling its occupation of the area illegal.

“The Chinese government’s attitude on maintaining the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering. We will never tolerate the Philippines’ illegal occupation of Ren’ai reef (Ayungin Shoal),” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a press conference in Beijing.

“China is on high alert for the Philippines taking more proactive acts in the South China Sea. The Philippines must accept responsibility for the consequences of what will happen,” Lei added.