MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – China’s harassment of Philippine planes on West Philippine Sea patrol continues, according to Western Command (Wescom) chief Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez.
At least 6 incidents were recorded since the April 19 incident over Subi (Zamora) Reef near Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island, Lopez said in a presentation on Thursday’s, May 7, hearing on the situation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
On April 19, a Chinese Navy frigate in a radio message ordered a Philippine Air Force (PAF) on patrol to stay away from the reef already reclaimed by China. The Chinese frigate also blinked its lights, a move that is considered provocative.
Wescom recorded China’s audio message: Foreign airplane you are approaching my military security area. Please go away quickly in order to avoid misjudgment. Foreign airplane you are approaching my area. Please go away quickly to avoid wrong judgment.”
A military source said the frigate was calling out the Philippine plane for getting “a little too close” to its location.
While incidents between Chinese and Phiilppine sea vessels have been common, Lopez earlier told Rappler this was the first time that China challenged a Philippine plane.