Philippine Marines drew their guns as the China Coast Guard approached the outpost.

Philippine Marines drew their guns as the China Coast Guard approached the outpost.

Philippine military officials confirmed that a Philippine Marine unit drew its weapons last month when Chinese Coast Guard personnel were deployed to seize food that had been airdropped to Second Thomas Shoal.

The Philippines has accused the Chinese Coast Guard of seizing essential supplies airdropped to the BRP Sierra Madre garrison in mid-May. China regularly blockades the garrison using coast guard and maritime militia vessels, often forcing Philippine troops to deliver supplies to the garrison at Second Thomas Shoal by parachute.

Philippine military officials said China Coast Guard personnel in a hard rubber boat intercepted one of four packages dropped by parachute during an aerial resupply mission in mid-May. During the encounter, the China Coast Guard boat came within five meters of the stranded landing ship BRP Sierra Madre, which serves as the Philippine base on the reef. As a precaution, the Marines followed the rules of engagement and used small arms fire.

“If you feel there is an imminent threat, it’s always best to be prepared,” AFP chief of staff Romeo Bronner said. “It’s part of the rules of engagement.”

Chinese state news network CGTN claimed earlier this week that Filipino personnel had pointed guns at the China Coast Guard during the clash. Video footage showed armed personnel on board the BRP Sierra Madre, but the footage could not confirm whether the weapons were pointed at any targets.

After the collision, the Chinese boat team opened the airdrop and dropped food overboard, allowing Philippine troops to retrieve some of the supplies from the water, according to AFP.

“It is clear that our personnel followed the rules of engagement (ROE) and conducted themselves with the highest level of professionalism,” AFP said in a statement. “We must exercise greater vigilance against foreign vessels that come dangerously close to our warships and violate safety distance regulations.”

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