Protest filed vs China flare attack on PH military aircraft—Esperon
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has protested China’s firing of flare warnings at Philippine military aircraft patrolling the West Philippine Sea.
At an online press briefing, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who also chairs the National Task Force West Philippine Sea, said the government has lodged a diplomatic protest on the June 2021 incident.
The Area Task Force West earlier reported that China had fired flares from its artificial outposts in the Spratly Islands at least five times at Philippine military planes in June 2021.
It was not the first time, however, that China had fired warning flares at Philippine military planes.
Philippine aircraft had received Chinese radio warnings at least 218 times while patrolling the West Philippine Sea, according to the task force.
“I recall an incident last June 2021 when flares, not gunshots, or any other caliber were fired at an Armed Forces of the Philippines aircraft patrolling the Union (Pagkakaisa) Banks,” Esperon said on Friday, confirming the Area Task Force West report.
“True to what we have agreed upon, there was a diplomatic protest,” he said.
Esperon said officials continue to be vigilant and protest any acts that violate the Philippines’ sovereign or sovereign rights.
“We continuously protest against what we find there in violation of our sovereignty and sovereign rights, whether you are Chinese or any other nationality,” he said.
China, using its fictitious nine-dash line, had laid claim to nearly the entire South China Sea but this had already been rejected by an international court in 2016. Some Southeast Asian countries have overlapping claims in the South China Sea but none as brazenly fraudulent as China’s.
Beijing turned reefs and islands into military outposts, deployed warships and maritime militia to reinforce its territorial claims in the resource-rich waterway.
Esperon said the government continued to monitor and protest incursions of marine scientific research vessels operating without permission, swarming of foreign vessels especially on Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, and ships that turn off their AIS (automatic identification system), among others.
“If we see that our sovereignty and sovereign rights are violated then we indeed launch diplomatic protest or some other actions are taken to protect our national interests,” Esperon said.
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