Patrol flights to continue over West Philippine Sea–AFP
The Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue its patrol flights in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) despite last week’s incident when a Chinese vessel challenged a Philippine military plane.
“We will continue with our patrol. It was just a normal flight that we are doing,” AFP Chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr. told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.
On April 19, a Chinese vessel flashed its lights to an Islander aircraft of the Philippine Navy flying near Zamora (Subi) Reef. The Filipino pilots ignored the Chinese action.
The AFP later described the incident as an “aggressive” action by the Chinese.
“Anyway, it was just a challenge so our troops know how to disengage if they are challenged,” Catapang said.
He added that the plane was flying unarmed.
“When they go on patrolling they are unarmed. They just have their cameras to photograph the area so to monitor what’s happening. We don’t have any offensive equipment inside or armaments,” Catapang said.
China claims nearly the entire West Philippine Sea which overlaps those of neighboring countries including the Philippines.
Based on recent photos, China has made significant progress in its reclamation activities in the disputed waters including those islands claimed by the Philippines.
The Philippines has nine-island claims in the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratly). AU
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