MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III said that the Philippines has not and will not yet make a request for US spy planes.
In an interview on Thursday, July 5, Aquino clarified his statement in a Reuters interview about the possibility that Manila will ask Washington to deploy spy planes over the South China Sea to help monitor the disputed waters. (Read: PH says may ask US for air surveillance and Palace: US spy planes just like Google Earth)
“I said, ‘we might.’ In the report, there was immediately a statement that there was a request or overflights which wasn’t what I stated .… So let’s just correct it. America is a treaty ally. If we will lack the capacity, I think we can approach them to boost what we call our situational awareness, especially here in the West Philippine Sea,” Aquino said in Filipino.
Asked if the Philippines will take steps to request for the spy planes, Aquino said, “Our ships and planes are already there. Both the Coast Guard and Navy islander have been performing the surveillance using our planes and our cameras.”
Photo from the US Navy
‘What provocative statement?’
Aquino also responded to the statement of China’s Foreign Ministry that the Philippines should stop issuing provocative statements on the dispute.
“It’s not clear to me what provocative statement of the Philippines they are referring to. But we know that the other side has been saying so many things so maybe we should read what is written from their part.”
“With all due respect, ano, baka dapat balansehin niya (spokesperson) ‘yung sinasabi niya sa katotohanan.” (Maybe China's spokesperson should balance what he is saying with the truth.)
Later today, Aquino will meet with his Cabinet to discuss the next steps in dealing with China.
On the agenda will be whether or not the Philippines will redeploy vessels to Scarborough Shoal. Manila pulled back its vessels from within Scarborough Shoal last month because of bad weather.
The Philippines calls the shoal Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc while China refers to it as Huangyan Island.
“We will be getting a discussion with opposing points of view on what is the best approach to settle this issue. It’s been almost 3 weeks since the Coast Guard vessels left the Shoal. So if [China’s] vessels were sent home, there will be no issue. So who is delaying this issue in Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc?”
The Philippines is locked in a three-month long standoff with China over Scarborough Shoal. – Rappler.com
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