‘Chinese warnings won’t stop PH pilots’ – Palace
The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s recent warnings to Philippine military pilots conducting patrols over the West Philippine Sea will not stop the country from asserting its sovereignty in the area, Malacañang said on Monday.
“[The warnings] will not stop us. We will continue with our flights. We will assert our sovereignty. And if need be, Filipino pilots will die for our sovereignty,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Roque made the statement at a press briefing, where he was asked about the government’s stand on the Chinese Navy’s recent warnings to Philippine military aircraft to stay away from areas it claims in the West Philippine Sea.
A video clip from the British news network BBC showed the Chinese Navy warning both military aircraft from the United States and the Philippines as they entered airspace near China’s man-made islands.
“Philippine military aircraft, I’m warning you again. Leave immediately or you will bear responsibility for all the consequences,” part of the Chinese Navy’s radio message said.
While he had yet to receive information on the latest incident, Roque said an investigation would be conducted on the matter.
He pointed out that the Philippine military aircraft disregarded the Chinese radio message and continued with its patrol.
“The good news is our pilots were not intimated. They were threatened. They were not intimidated and continued the flight because we have our territories there,” he said.
Roque said this meant that the government was upholding its sovereignty over its territories in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea that is within the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
“That means we are upholding our title, that we are asserting our sovereignty,” he said.
But while the Armed Forces of the Philippines is used to receiving warnings from the Chinese during its patrols over the area, it said the “rather harsh challenge” could be addressed through diplomatic channels.
“Our soldiers and pilots just comply and reply ‘We are just doing routine flight in our jurisdiction, territory,’” AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said.
“I think we have to ask the Chinese [why they used harsh words],” he added. —WITH A REPORT FROM JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
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