TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Philippines government said there is nothing stopping the Armed Forces of the Philippines from operating freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea (SCS) on August 13.
The comments were made by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during a regular press briefing, after an exchange between the Philippine Air Force and China's military on August 10.
The BBC and CNN were invited to join the U.S. Navy aboard a P-8A patrol airplane during a routine freedom of navigation exercise through international airspace. During the flight the Chinese military threatened and demanded the U.S. aircraft to leave the area.
The reporters aboard also overheard China harassing the Philippine Air Force, with a Chinese military official quoted as saying "Philippine military aircraft, I'm warning you again. Leave immediately or you will bear responsibility for all the consequences," reported ABS-CBN.
The Philippine and U.S. military craft were not doing anything illegal, as they were operating outside of national airspace and in-line with international laws and norms, according to CNN.
Roque said that China "will not stop us" from flying military aircraft through the SCS.
"We will continue with our flights. We will assert our sovereignty. And if need be Filipino pilots will die for our sovereignty," Roque said.