Sending supplies to the troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre, the country's outpost in Ayungin Shoal, is getting more difficult as Chinese Coast Guard vessels continue to block ships going to the Kalayaan Island Group, the Philippine Navy said on Wednesday.
"We have been holding ourselves back and refraining from undertaking activities that run the risk of being misinterpreted or mishandled in the conflict. Bearing that in mind we exercise utmost caution particularly since our recent resupply missions at Ayungin Shoal are becoming increasingly more difficult in view of the presence of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels," said Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez in a report on GMA 7's "24 Oras" on Wednesday.
Admiral Lopez also said the troops out in the Kalayaan Island Group should be given ample support.
"Our own KIG detachments today badly need moral, welfare, and recreational support and require critical maintenance and upgrade," he stated.
Around the same time last year, the Navy's resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal was also harassed by Chinese vessels.
Philippine Navy spokesman Col. Ed Arevalo that so far the harassment of the Chinese vessels are not considered "hostile."
"Hindi pa naman natin siya masasabi na hostile act...Parang isang lugar na may nagtatalo kung sino dapat ang may-ari or kung sino ang dapat na nandoon na sinisigawan mo na 'Hoy umalis ka diyan'," he said.
The Ayungin Shoal is located inside the Philippines' exclusive economic zone but China is also claiming it is part of its territory.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the military is continually monitoring the situation in the West Philippine Sea.
"Pinag-aaralan natin kung papaano natin maayos 'yunng ating mga tao doon at ang kanilang mga resupply, mga provisions. And at the same time, pinalalakas natin 'yung ating mga relasyon sa ating mga kapitbahay, mga kalapit-bansa upang sa ganun lumakas ang ating samahan," he said.