World Bulletin / News Desk
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said Monday that the country’s aircraft would continue flying routes over disputed territories claimed by China in the South China Sea.
"We will still fly to routes that we fly based on international law," Aquino told reporters in Marikina City, in Metro Manila.
He dismissed concerns of China targeting Philippine aircraft since “there has been no declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the routes of our carriers.”
Aquino stressed that it would damage China's reputation in the international community if the powerful nation were to engage in direct confrontation with a small country like the Philippines.
"The disparity is very obvious in military force between China and ourselves,” GMA News quoted him as saying. “Will they not take that into consideration, especially if you want to maintain a positive image to the rest of the world?"
China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea. Several other Asian nations including Vietnam and the Philippines have also laid claim.
Last week, a U.S. surveillance plane on flight drills over the sea was told to leave the area by an unidentified Chinese navy unit.
The incident came after recent complaints by Filipino fishermen who say Chinese coast guards drove them from their fishing grounds located near the contested territories, but within the Philippine’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Earlier this month, a Philippine military official told the senate of six separate cases in which air force planes patrolling the disputed territories were told over radio that they were flying in a Chinese “military security area."
The Spratlys – a coveted group of mostly barren islands, reefs and atolls - are believed to be sitting on top of oil and natural gas deposits and straddle the world's most-traversed sea-lanes.Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Mayıs 2015, 13:05