Philippines won't be cowed by China's threat, to continue flights in South China Sea: Palace
The Philippines would not be cowed in asserting its sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as it would continue its flight in the area, Malacanang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was reacting to reports the Chinese Navy had threatened a Philippine military aircraft in its recent flight over Beijing's artificial islands in the South China Sea, including those within the 200 nautical miles Philippine exclusive economic zone.
"They will not stop us. We will continue with our flights. We will assert our sovereignty. And if need be Filipino pilots will die for our sovereignty," he said in a press briefing.
But Roque said the Palace would verify with the Philippine military if Chinese military threatened the Philippine pilots.
"Investigation will be conducted, but if the information is true, the good news is our pilots were not cowed...they continued with their flight because we have our territory there," he said.
During the surveillance flight of P-8A Poseidon aircraft of the the US Navy over the Spratly Islands last Friday, it overheard China's message to the Philippine aircraft, which was also conducting a flight in its EEZ.
A voice from the Chinese reportedly warned the Filipinos they have to leave immediately or they would bear responsibility for the consequences.
The warning given to the Filipinos were not polite compared to when the Chinese made similar warning to the US aircraft.
The Philippines and China are engaged in territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
But when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, he decided to take a softer and friendly stance with China as far as the South China Sea issue is concerned. Celerina Monte/DMS