MANILA — A group organizing a convoy of civilian vessels to deliver supplies to troops on BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal would be "ill-advised" because of tension in the West Philippine Sea, the National Security Council said.
It said Tuesday that the "Atin Ito" (This is Ours) coalition could instead send their Christmas convoy to other parts of the Kalayaan Island Group.
"There are also frontliners in those features and they also deserve Christmas goodies and donations from the public," NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said in a statement.
He said visiting the islands of Lawak, Kota, Likas, Pag-Asa, Parola, or Panata, or Rizal Reef would allow them to "visit a vaster area of the West Philippine Sea" and "more fully realize" their goal of improving the living conditions of communities in the tense sea.
The NSC said that it supports the civilian convoy "in principle" but not the planned trip "or any similar undertaking" to Ayungin.
Government resupply missions to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre have met stiff resistance from Chinese vesseld, including the use of water cannons and of blocking maneuvers that have led to collisions.
Malaya sa said "Atin Ito" could also turn over the Christmas donations to the Philippine Navy or Philippine Coast Guard "and we will gladly bring the donated supplies to BRP Sierra Madre during the routine rotation and resupply missions."
The coalition, which includes Akbayan Party, is organizing a 40-vessel convoy that will sail from El Nido in Palawan to Ayungin Shoal to distribute food and navigation tools.
They said the civilian convoy is meant to "normalize our voyages to the West Philippine Sea."
Chinese vessels, which include ships of the Chinese Coast Guard and People's Liberation Army Navy, in the West Philippine Sea have kept Filipino boats away from some fishing areas.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan said at the launch on Monday that "[i]t's not an exaggeration when we say Filipinos are being harassed on a daily basis."