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Senate opposition seeks probe of Chinese aircraft visits in Davao

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By Hannah Torregoza

The Senate minority bloc has filed a resolution calling for an investigation into the successive “technical stops” of Chinese military aircraft in Davao City’s airport facilities.

Senate of the Philippines / Manila Bulletin

Senate of the Philippines / Manila Bulletin

The five-page Senate Resolution No. 779 seeks to determine whether it has violated the constitutional prohibition on the presence of foreign troops in the country.

The resolution was signed by Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Leila de Lima, Paolo (Bam)Aquino IV, Francis (Kiko) Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Antonio Trillanes IV.

In filing the resolution, the lawmakers said it is imperative to find out from the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) if such arrangement with the Chinese government is covered by any treaty or any legally-binding agreement.

“The successive occurrence of Chinese military planes making technical stops in Davao City raises the question of whether the Constitution’s proscription against the presence of foreign troops in the country is being violated by the Duterte administration,” they stated in the resolution.

“The circumstances of the Chinese military aircraft landing in Davao is giving rise to speculations that the use by the Chinese military of Davao City’s airport facilities is a personal favor granted by the President to China,” they stated in the document.

Last June 8, a Chinese military plane reportedly landed at the Davao City International Airport purportedly to “refuel.”

Special Assistant to the President Christopher (Bong) Go, said the landing of the Chinese aircraft was “received, processed and cleared” by the concerned Philippine government agencies.

Another Chinese aircraft was allowed to land and refuel in Davao City on June 24, prompting Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque to assure the public that the necessary protocols were followed in the latest “technical stop” of the foreign plane.

But a source from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), according to Trillanes, has said that it was not the first time that a Chinese plane landed in Davao City.

They said this raises questions whether protocols were followed and whether there “is an apparent attempt to conceal the incident from the public.”

The opposition senators said the Senate should conduct an investigation in view of China’s aggressive island-building and militarization in the West Philippine Sea as well as domination and control over Scarborough Shoal.

They also wanted to find out whether the approval or acquiescence of the President alone to the presence of foreign military aircraft, troops or naval vessels within the Philippine territory is enough to permit or allow their presence.

“There is a need to clarify the role of the DND and the AFP in approving, monitoring, and overseeing the transit, passage, presence, and use of the Philippine facilities by foreign military aircraft,” they said.

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