PHL C-295 aircraft patrols over Scarborough Shoal

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A Philippine Air Force C-295 aircraft has conducted an air patrol mission over Panatag Shoal also known as Scarborough Shoal, Bajo de Masinloc. This was revealed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command (NLC) spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Isagani Nato, in report by PNA.

Nato said the patrol mission lasted for 30 minutes and they were not challenged by Chinese side. He also noted that they were flying at 5,000 feet at the time.

“Wala namang problema sa lugar nung pagpunta namin. Walang construction,” Lieutenant Colonel Nato said.

Nato added that four possible Chinese Coast Guard vessels and one Chinese fishing vessel were sighted in the vicinity. “Yung tingin namin kasi puti pero hindi ko ma-sure kung lahat ‘yun coast guard,” he said.

They also spotted five Filipino fishing boats and their crew who seemed to be going about their business. “Wala namang problema sa tingin namin,” Lieutenant Colonel Nato said.

During the January 22 press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said “if there are new reclamations or new artificial islands then, we would then maintain that there would be a breach of the good faith obligation, but so far, no breach.”

“At this point, Manila and Beijing know that it is, to both are interests to maintain the current good relations and that is why the status quo is being served,” he said.

Roque noted that China’s claim over Scarborough Shoal is historical rights, while the Philippines the backing of a decision made by Arbitral Tribunal.

“For now, we maintain, we have title, despite China’s contrary statements. But for now, what’s important is the right of the livelihood of our fishermen and right now our fishermen are able to exercise its right,” he said.

Sources: http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1022570; https://pcoo.gov.ph/press_briefing/press-briefing-presidential-spokesperson-secretary-harry-roque-3/