MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Special Assistant to the President Bong Go confirmed on Sunday, June 10, that a Chinese government plane recently landed in the Philippines, as he said the aircraft was cleared for landing.
The plane was spotted at the Davao City Airport on Friday, June 8, according to viral social media posts. The aircraft was identified as People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) military transport plane IL-76.
"There are reports from social media showing a Chinese government plane landing in the Philippines. The request for landing was received, processed, and cleared by relevant Philippine government agencies," Go said in a statement on Sunday.
Go said the landing was done so that the plane can refuel. Permission "was granted and given with specific conditions for compliance by the requesting party."
Go explained that technical landings by foreign government and commercial planes are done through close coordination by relevant government agencies, "following established domestic procedure and in consideration of existing agreements."
He added the the Department of National Defense (DND), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), as well as other agencies, ensure that parties requesting to land in the Philippines comply with procedures and requirements.
Go said the same courtesy is also extended to Philippine government planes.
In a separate statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque says that based on CAAP's records, "the Chinese aircraft made a technical stop in Davao City on June 8 for mere refueling."
"According to the permit granted, the aircraft was bound for Cairns, Australia," Roque said.
He added: "As verified and reported by CAAP, no movement of passengers was made outside the terminal building. The Chinese aircraft used a local handler, Transnational Aviation Support Service, to arrange the requirements for the permit. The flight was given an entry and exit permit, like any other private flights."
On Saturday, June 9, a social media post showing images of the Chinese military aircraft went viral after military historian and defense analyst Jose Antonio Custodio posted photos attributed to the Philippine Plane Spotters Group.
The Chinese aircraft's landing comes as the Philippines and China remain embroiled in a dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The most recently reported incident between the two countries involves the Chinese Coast Guard taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal). – Rappler.com