November 7, 2019
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said flares fired by the Chinese against the patrolling aircraft of Philippine Air Force were "never a direct threat".
Lorenzana said the incidents are not a cause for concern.
"My suspicion is that they (Chinese) are letting our aircraft know where they (the Chinese) are lest our aircraft stray over them. It is just a warning to communicate where they are. Nothing more," Lorenzana told Daily Manila Shimbun in a message on Wednesday night.
"They were never a direct threats to our aircraft," he said.
Lorenzana said the flares were fired when the Philippine Air Force aircraft were passing by the three Chinese-occupied features in West Philippine Sea.
"The flares were fired from the three Chinese-occupied artificial Islands within our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) while our planes were passing by these islands," he said.
"None of our aircraft flew over these Islands. Hence, these were not directed against our aircraft as they are about five nautical miles away and at an altitude of 5,000 ft distance from the artificial Islands. So there was no danger on our aircraft," he added.
During a hearing at the House Committee on National Defense and Security, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Major General Reuben Basiao revealed that six warning flares were fired by Chineses against Philippine patrol planes in West Philippine Sea from January to June of this year. Robina Asido/DMS
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