In today’s Philippine Independence Day celebration, all of the nine Philippine-occupied territories in the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea raises the Philippine national flag simultaneously with the other military camps on the mainland in celebration of the 116th Philippine Independence Day.
The nine flags in various territories of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, includes the rusty BRP Sierra Madre stationed at the Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal). The flag raising ceremony took place at around 7:00 AM, today, June 12, 2014, as confirmed by Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic in an interview with Inquirer, he noted that the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) detachments are composed of the following:
- Ayungin Shoal
- Pagasa (Thitu) Island,
- Lawak (Nanshan) Island,
- Parola (Northeast Cay) Island,
- Patag (Flat) Island,
- Kota (Loaita) Island,
- Rizal (Commodore) Reef
- Likas (West York) Island
- Panata (Lankiam Cay) Island
The Philippine Flag Raising Ceremony in all nine occupied territories in the Spratly Group of Islands were synchronized with the Philippine Standard Time. Although the flag raising ceremony is done every year in the above-mentioned territories, military historian Jose Antonio Custodio noted that it, today’s flag raising ceremony is more significant because of the China’s belligerence in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippine Navy also lauded the BRP Sierra Madre which holds the line for the Philippines in the Ayungin Shoal. The former hospital ship of the US Navy, named as LST 821 Harnett County which served during World War II was grounded by the Philippines as BRP Sierra Madre during the year 1999 in response to China’s illegal occupation of the Mischief (Panganiban) Reef four years earlier.