China issues radio challenge to aircraft of senators visiting Pag-asa Island

China issues radio challenge to aircraft of senators visiting Pag-asa Island

MANILA, Philippines — Senate leaders visiting Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan on Thursday received radio challenges from China asking them to leave the Philippine territory.

China's communications were made even before the private aircraft carrying Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Majority Floor Leader Joel Villanueva and Sen. JV Ejercito landed in Pag-asa Island, according to a News5 report.

"Gusto ko lang po sabihin kung nakikinig sila, ito ang teritoryo ng republika ng Pilipinas. Hindi inyo ito. Teritoryo ito ng Pilipinas bago pa dumating si Magellan, kaya kung pwede lumayas na kayo," Zubiri said during a press conference at Pag-asa Village.

(I just want to say if they are listening, this is the territory of the Republic of the Philippines. It's not yours. This was the territory of the Philippines before Magellan arrived, so if you can, leave now.)

The three senators visited Pag-asa Island to witness the groundbreaking ceremony of two projects earmarked in the 2024 national budget: a rural health unit with basic laboratory facilities and a birthing unit, as well as barracks for Philippine Navy personnel assigned to patrol the island.

"Inilaban natin na maisama sa 2024 national budget ang mga proyektong ito, dahil naniniwala tayo na ang investment sa imprastruktura ng Pag-asa ay investment rin natin sa seguridad ng West Philippine Sea," Zubiri said in a social media post.

(We advocated for these projects be included in the 2024 national budget, because we believe that the investment in the infrastructure of Pag-asa is also our investment in the security of the West Philippine Sea.)

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who was also part of the cohort who visited Pag-asa Island, noted that there were 22 Chinese militia vessels hovering near the island.

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