Philippine Armed Forces airdrops supplies, letters to troops on Ayungin - 2nd Thomas Shoal)

Included in the airdropped supplies were letters of encouragement from students. (Handout photo GMA News)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines airdropped food, water, and other supplies on Saturday to soldiers stationed on the country's outpost on the disputed Ayungin Shoal — the grounded Philippine Navy transport ship BRP Sierra Madre.

The AFP said a Navy airplane dropped a package that contained fast food, bottled water, assorted bread, canned goods, magazines, and letters of encouragement from students on Saturday morning.

The package also included a note from General Emmanuel Bautista, AFP chief of staff, for the soldiers aboard BRP Sierra Madre.

The note reads: "Hold the Line!" and is signed by "Manny Sundalo".

Fast food, water, magazines, and letters for troops stationed on the Sierra Madre (Handout photo GMA News)

The AFP said the idea to drop off supplies came from concerned citizens and civic groups who "wanted to show their support to our soldiers who spend between three to six months guarding our detachment in Ayungin Shoal."

"The AFP is doing all it can to support and uplift the morale of our troops assigned in one of the remotest military posts within our territory. Little comforts being sent to our troops is always welcome and will surely have a positive effect on their commitment to defend what is ours," it added.

The Ayungin Shoal (also known as Second Thomas Reef) and the Mischief Reef (claimed by the Philippine as Panganiban Reef) both lie in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine government says Ayungin Shoal and Mischief Reef lie within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the country under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

On March 9, Chinese Coast Guard blocked and two Philippine civilian vessels contracted by the Philippine Navy to bring supplies to its seven-man team stationed on BRP Sierra Madre.

The expulsion incident came after Chinese Coast Guard attacked fishermen in Bajo De Masinloc – also known as Panatag Shoal – with water cannons on January 27.

The Chinese government claimed the Filipino fishermen “provoked” the Chinese Coast Guard.

Both incidents prompted Philippine government to file separate diplomatic protests against China before the UN international tribunal. — Amanda Fernandez/JDS, GMA News


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