AFP mum on US air patrol over Scarborough
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - April 22, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) remains tight-lipped over the recent flying mission conducted by the US air contingent in the vicinity of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

A number of senior military officials who attended yesterday’s AFP change of command at Camp Aguinaldo all declined to comment on the recent US air sortie.

“We don’t have any knowledge about it,” said two of the senior officials, whose respective units have air and maritime jurisdictions over the entire West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) commander Lt. Gen. Romeo Tanalgo also declined to comment on the recent US air patrol near Panatag Shoal.

Tanalgo’s unit has overall command of the entire military in the country’s northern front.

On the other hand, Undersecretary and former AFP chief Emmanuel Bautista was seen at Camp Aguinaldo discussing things with an unnamed Chinese military defense attaché.

The two were standing near the AFP Public Affairs Office and seen talking to each other after attending the AFP command turnover, an event presided over by President Aquino.

On Tuesday, the US Air Force said it has dispatched an attack aircraft, along with its primary combat search and rescue helicopters, for an air mission in international airspace but within the vicinity of Panatag Shoal.

S/Sgt. Benjamin Stratton of the Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs (PAFPA) said USPACOM’s Air Contingent operations at Clark Air Base involved four A-10Cs Thunderbolts and two HH-60G Pave Hawks.

“The A-10s and HH-60s conducted a flying mission through international airspace in the vicinity of Panatag Shoal west of the Philippines providing air and maritime situational awareness. These missions promote transparency and safety of movement in international waters and airspace,” Stratton said in a statement yesterday.

He said the aircraft are part of the “Air Contingent in the Philippines” specifically to conduct operations ranging from air and maritime domain awareness, personally recovery, combating piracy and to assure all nations have access to air and sea domains throughout the region in accordance with international law.

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