Use of water cannon vs BFAR vessels ‘most aggressive’ yet by China

(CNN) Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — An official of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said China’s actions against the agency’s vessels on Saturday may have been the “most aggressive” yet, adding that they could lead to the capsizing of smaller fishing vessels.

So far sa na-experience natin, ito na po ang pinaka-aggressive, sobrang aggressive move na ginawa ng China sa ating resupply mission,” said the BFAR official, who refused to be named.

Ngayon, kahit nag-distribute na tayo ng mga ano natin para sa mga fishermen, nagbobomba na sila ngayon ng water cannon, before po ay wala naman ganoon,” he added.

[Translation: So far from what we’ve experienced, this is the most aggressive move China has made yet against our resupply mission…Now, even after we have distributed aid to the fishermen, they still fired at us with water cannons. They never did that before.]

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) reported on Saturday that Chinese ships fired water cannons at BFAR ships Datu Sanday, Datu Bankaw, and Datu Tamblot at least eight times.

The BFAR official said Filipino fishermen have expressed their fear over the recent incident.

Puwede sila lumubog kapag binombahan ng tubig na galing sa Chinese,” he said.

[Translation: The fishermen’s boats can sink when water cannoned by the Chinese.]

On Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said a commissioned vessel on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal sustained “serious engine damage” after it was blasted with water cannon by the China Coast Guard (CCG). 

similar incident also happened in November 2021, when two Chinese vessels blocked resupply boats to the BRP Sierra Madre, while another vessel fired a water cannon at it for an hour. 

In August, a CCG vessel also blocked and fired water cannons at PCG vessels on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal.

Despite the harassment, PCG spokesperson on the West Philippine Sea Jay Tarriela said there’s no reason to change the country’s position and actions in the contested area.

“If there’s somebody who is going to modify the behavior and actions in the West Philippine Sea, that would not be us. It should be the Chinese government to abide and adhere to international law,” he said in an interview.

Meanwhile, Senator Jinggoy Estrada urged “the Chinese government to respect international law, exercise restraint, and cease all actions that jeopardize the peace and security of the region.”

“We stand united in condemning these latest aggressive actions taken by CCG. We will not be cowed by any actions to intimidate or undermine our sovereign rights,” he added.