Drone seizure doesn’t concern us, says PH defense chief
China’s seizure of an underwater glider deployed by a US oceanographic vessel off Zambales province on Thursday should not concern the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Saturday.
In a text message, Lorenzana refused to comment on the matter, saying he had no prior knowledge about the US using drones to collect unclassified scientific data in the West Philippine Sea.
“That is between the US and China; we did not know the United States [was] using [a drone] in the South China Sea,” he said.
The USNS Bowditch said the unmanned underwater vehicle was lawfully conducting a survey in the West Philippine Sea when it was removed by a Chinese warship.
The Pentagon confirmed the incident at a news briefing in Washington, saying this was a serious matter because it involved a US property.
Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the glider was seized inside the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, not China, and appeared to be a violation of international law.
It was not the first time that US drones had been found floating on Philippine waters.
In 2013, a 10-foot orange BQM-74e drone marked “Navy” was found by a Filipino diver off Masbate Island and had been turned over to local navy authorities.
In January and November this year, sea drones washed up on a beach at Masinloc, Zambales.
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