Philippine Navy air assets flew over Chinese PLA Navy warships sailing in southern Philippines, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said on August 15.
“Our Navy flew over these vessels and apparently noticing that we have found out their presence in our country, resumed the normal course which is supposed to be one of the innocent passage as against the course that they are taking,” Brigadier General Arevalo said, citing report for AFP Western Mindanao Command, as quoted by GMA News Online.
“The moment that they learned that our government through our Armed Forces had taken notice of their presence, they left the area and they left our territory and headed to the direction outside of our country,” he added.
“If they are conducting researches or surveillance, that may not necessarily be known to us because in the first place their moves are intended to be discreet. The fact is they did not seek any clearance or diplomatic clearance before entering our country, our waters,” Brigadier General Arevalo said.
“They switched off their automatic identification system… So basically these are the reasons why we consider it to be, to have posed a security challenge on our part,” he noted.
During the August 15 press conference in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo said “if they keep on saying that we’re friends, I don’t think this is an act of friendship” when asked regarding Chinese warships passing through Philippine territorial waters without prior notice.