MANILA, Nov 22 (Mabuhay) — China will no longer interfere with upcoming supply deliveries to Filipino military personnel in Ayungin Shoal, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sunday, days after Chinese vessels blocked Philippine supply boats in the area.

“The Chinese will not interfere [with the delivery of supplies this week],” Lorenzana said in a text message, citing conversations he had with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.

Last Tuesday, Chinese coast guard vessels “blocked and water cannoned” two Philippine supply boats that were supposed to transport food supplies to the military in Ayungin.

Lorenzana said he had been in talks with Huang since Tuesday evening “while the incident was happening” until Saturday.

“We will see if they are true to their words as our Navy will proceed with the resupply this week,” he said.

The Philippine defense chief also clapped back at Beijing, which claimed that Filipino boats “trespassed” in Chinese waters, prompting the vessels to block and bombard them with water.

“They are the ones violating our sovereign rights within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” Lorenzana said.

“They have no right to impede, prevent or harass our ships within our EEZ whether we are fishing or bringing supplies to our detachment in the Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal,” he added.

The Philippines and the United States have reiterated that the 2016 ruling of a United Nations-backed arbitration court that invalidated China’s expansive claims in the resource-rich South China Sea is legally binding to both Manila and Beijing.

In October, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it protested what it regarded as fresh “provocative acts” by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea.

The Philippines has so far filed 211 diplomatic notes against China since Duterte came to power amid continuing incursions in the country’s waters, according to the DFA.

Australia, France, Germany and Japan have expressed concern over the recent incident at Ayungin Shoal, stressing the importance of peace and stability in the South China Sea.(MNS)

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