Cebu Daily News - - NEWS - IN­QUIRER.NET

PA­GASA IS­LAND, Philippines — China chal­lenged two Philip­pine mil­i­tary planes on its way to the Philippines-claimed Pa­gasa Is­land (Thitu) on Friday here in the dis­puted South China Sea.

The two planes, a C-295 and a C-130 trans­port plane, that were warned by China to stay away were car­ry­ing De­fense Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana and top mil­i­tary of­fi­cials.

The pi­lots of the C-295 re­ported that they were chal­lenged at the pe­riph­ery of Chi­nese-con­trolled Subi Reef near land­ing, Armed Forces spokesper­son Brig. Gen. Resti­tuto Padilla said. Padilla was on board the plane with AFP chief Gen. Ed­uardo Año.

The plane, dur­ing such in­ci­dents, is told it is en­ter­ing Chi­nese ter­ri­tory and should stay away to avoid mis­cal­cu­la­tion.

Loren­zana, who was on­board the C-130, down­played the in­ci­dent and

“Nor­mal na yan tuwing punta (That is nor­mal ev­ery time we visit). They al­ways chal­lenge and we al­ways tell them we are fly­ing in a Philip­pine ter­ri­tory,” he added.

Loren­zana is the first de­fense chief to visit the largest is­land claim of the Philippines in the Spratlys in the South China Sea in al­most 20 years.

He toured the is­land to in­spect the fa­cil­i­ties that needed re­pair.

Mean­while, a group of Filipino fish­er­men have ac­cused China’s coast guard of shoot­ing at their ves­sel in dis­puted South China Sea waters, au­thor­i­ties said Friday.

Of­fi­cials said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the re­ported at­tack on the Princess Jo- hann boat, which the crew said oc­curred near a Chi­nese-oc­cu­pied sec­tion of the Spratly ar­chi­pel­ago on March 27.

There were no ca­su­al­ties dur­ing the in­ci­dent, au­thor­i­ties added.

“(Princess Jo­hann) was re­port­edly fired upon seven times by a Chi­nese speed­boat with seven Chi­nese coast guards on board,” the Philip­pine Coast Guard state­ment said.

The armed speed­boat ap­proached the Filipino ves­sel af­ter it dropped an­chor about 3.7 kilo­me­ters off the Chi­nese side of the Union Banks atoll, it said.

“The crew hid and even­tu­ally cut their an­chor line and fled the area,” the state­ment added./


The Pa­gasa Is­land.

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