PHL aware of Chinese civilian aircraft landing in Mischief Reef

MANILA — Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said China has informed the Philippines when it decided to land a civilian aircraft on the airstrip it has constructed in Mischief Reef last week.

He added a Chinese military attache informed the DND of the landing last July 11, a day before the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated China’s claim over its “historic rights” to the West Philippine Sea and also pointed out that its “Nine-Dash-Line” claim has no legal basis.

The landing which was made on July 14 was done to test the structural integrity or soundness of the airstrip.

Lorenzana said it was the first time the Chinese have notified the Philippines of such activities.

China and the Philippines are both claiming ownership of Mischief Reef which lies 250 kilometers west of Palawan.

When asked on whether the DND has information on alleged Chinese reclamation works off Scarborough Shoal, Lorenzana said they have no such report available as of this time.

The DND chief also added that the Philippines is not in a position to prevent China from constructing more of their man-made islands.

“I don’t think they will listen to us, (if they will do that, they will just continue doing that) despite our objections, we can’t do anything, so we’ll just watch them do that because we don’t have any capability to prevent them from doing that,” he stressed. PNA/