First, they drove away Filipino fishermen. Now the Chinese want to shoo away Philippine planes flying to an island in Palawan.
The country’s aviation regulator on Monday claimed that China’s Navy harassed a Philippine-registered aircraft flying over Pagasa Island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Cessna plane was carrying personnel of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) who went to the island last week to inspect a possible site for installation of a radar there.
When the plane was 40 miles away from the Rancudo airstrip, it received a warning from the Chinese Navy.
“Foreign military aircraft this is the Chinese Navy, you are threatening the security of our station,” the Chinese Navy warned.
CAAP technical consultant Inocencion Yncierto, a member of the team that visited Pagasa, said the pilot ignored the Chinese warning and landed.
CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said they went to Pag-asa because the aviation authority leased a parcel of land with the municipality of Kalayaan “for the proposed installation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment in a two square meter land beside the runway of Ranculo Airfiled at Pag-asa Island.”
The installation of a radar will allow the Philippines to monitor commercial flights passing through the West Philippine Sea.
Apolonio explained that the ADS-B technology is a system that an aircraft uses to determine its location via satellite navigation.
It makes flying significantly safer for the aviation community by providing pilots with improved situational awareness.
Malacañang also on Monday said the CAAP incident had been reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“The DFA has been informed about the reported incident involving our CAAP team that went to Pagasa Island. We will await the DFA’s statement on this matter,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said.
Pagasa (Thitu) Island is located in Kalayaan municipality in Palawan province.
The island is just 280 nautical miles northwest of Puerto Princesa.
With a population of over 200 people, Kalayaan is the country’s smallest municipality.
It has an old airstrip, a small clinic and an elementary school.
The CAAP said some commercial 200 flights pass through the West Philippine Sea every day.
Last year, the Chinese Coast Guard drove away Filipino fishermen from the Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) using water cannons.
Other fishermen in the shoal were also chased away by armed Chinese personnel on board rubber boats.
The Philippines has filed a number of diplomatic protests over such acts of harassment in disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea.
In December last year, about 50 young Filipinos sailed to Pagasa Island as a symbolic stand against China’s claim to the area.
The group camped out in the island for several days.