Centino: AFP regularly provisioning, rotating personnel from BRP Sierra Madre

Centino: AFP regularly provisioning, rotating personnel from BRP Sierra Madre
© Reuters/Erik De Castro Filipino marines stationed aboard the grounded BRP Sierra Madre take part in a flag retreat at the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands on the West Philippine Sea on Saturday, March 29. Two Chinese Coast Guard ships tried to block a Philippine supply boat from bringing fresh troops and supplies to the military detachment.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Monday that they were regularly providing food and supplies, changing personnel, and ensuring the well-being of the troops aboard the BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal.

In a Laging Handa briefing, AFP Chief Lt. Gen. Andres Centino said that they considered the Navy ship as a permanent government post since 1999. And while the ship was deteriorating over time, they were continually mending the vessel out of consideration for the troops stationed at the outpost.

“Aside from reprovisioning, we provide supplies regularly and ‘yan ginagawa ng ating mga forces under the Western Command. Nagpapadala ng mga tao din to replace kasi hindi naman pwedeng matagalan ang pagkadistino doon,” he said.

(The forces under the Western Command are providing them with supplies aside from reprovisioning. We also rotate troops in and out as they cannot be deployed there for too long.)

On Thursday, China demanded that the Philippines remove the grounded Philippine vessel BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal a day after Filipino boats reached the grounded Navy ship to complete their resupply mission.

Several senators have raised concerns regarding this, saying that China had no right to demand the removal of BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal which was within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

“It has been there since 1999 and since then, we have considered it as a government post, a permanent government post and it is manned by AFP personnel since 1999 hanggang ngayon (until now),” Centino said.

The Chinese Coast Guard also blocked and water cannoned two Philippine supply boats on a resupply mission to the Ayungin Shoal.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said no one was hurt in this incident, but the boats had to abort their resupply mission.

Communist insurgency

Centino meanwhile said that the AFP had dismantled 20 Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army guerilla fronts this year, reducing CPP-NPA active units to 43.

“Merong labing isa [pa] na for dismantling, so at the rate that we are going, I am sure that hindi malayo na ma-comply talaga natin ‘yung inutos ng ating Presidente, especially now that we have the time, the resources, the focus, and the personnel to perform this task,” said the AFP chief.

(We are dismantling 11 more units. So at this rate, I’m sure that we’ll be able to comply with the orders of the President considering that we have the time, resources, focus, and personnel to perform this task.)

He said that the AFP is currently working with several government agencies, such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in addressing the country’s insurgency problem, which has been ongoing for 52 years.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier asked state security forces to end the communist insurgency in the country by the end of his term in 2022.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police [are] now focused in going after the armed group and this setup has increased our successes. Exponentially malaki nang nabawas natin sa threats (the threats were greatly reduced) and we are glad to report that out of remaining guerilla fronts iilan na lang ang natitira (only a few are left),” he added. — DVM, GMA News

This article Centino: AFP regularly provisioning, rotating personnel from BRP Sierra Madre was originally published in GMA News Online.

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