PAGASA ISLAND, Philippines — China challenged two Philippine military planes on its way to the Philippine-claimed Pagasa Island (Thitu) on Friday here in the disputed South China Sea.
The two planes, a C-295 and a C-130 transport plane, that were warned by China to stay away were carrying Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and top military officials.
The pilots of the C-295 reported that they were challenged at the periphery of Chinese-controlled Subi Reef near landing, Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said. Padilla was onboard the plane with AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año.
The plane, during such incidents, is told it is entering Chinese territory and should stay away to avoid miscalculation.
Lorenzana, who was onboard the C-130, downplayed the incident, and said it is just protocol.
“Automatic yan, protocol yan. We also replied that we are flying over Philippine territory. Challenge yan, may sagutan pa rin pero wala namang untoward incident na nangyari,” he said.
(That is automatic. That is protocol. We also replied that we are flying over Philippine territory. They challenged us. There are a series of replies but no untoward incident happened.)
“Normal na yan tuwing punta (That is normal every time we visit). They always challenge and we always tell them we are flying in a Philippine territory,” he added.
Lorenzana is the first defense chief to visit the largest island claim of the Philippines in the Spratlys in the South China Sea in almost 20 years.
He toured the island to inspect the facilities that needed repair./rga
Defense experts have long said China would like to control all sea and air traffic on and over the South China Sea. This incident between China and Philippine Air Force aircraft makes one wonder if China is rehearing to establish an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea.
Philippines Has Big Plans for Pag-asa Island
PAG-ASA ISLAND, South China Sea—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana flew to Pag-asa Island (Thitu) on Friday, the first defense chief to visit the Philippine-claimed territory in the disputed sea in nearly 20 years.
He was joined by top military officials to tour the island and inspect the facilities that need to be repaired.
“Kami ay nandito para tingnan ‘yung lugar dahil maraming gustong ipagawa ang ating mahal na Presidente. Meron tayong nakalaang pera rito para maayos natin ang ating runway,” he told the military personnel deployed and residents of the island.
(We are here to inspect the place because the President wants repairs done here. We have allotted funds to fix the runway.)
The Rancudo airfield is an unpaved 1.3-kilometer airstrip that is dangerous for landing big military
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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.
Despite all this:
Tags: ADIZ, air challenge, Chanllenge to unknown aircraft, China, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Duterte, international law, Pagasa Island, Philippine military, Philippine military planes, Philippine territory, Philippines, South China Sea, Thitu