MANILA, Philippines – Only dumb luck will allow North Korea's long-range rocket to hit the Philippines because of 3 obstacles standing in its way, NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said Wednesday.
Speaking to radio dzMM, Ramos admitted the Philippines does not have the capability to shoot down the rocket if it reaches Philippine airspace.
However, he said he is employing “positive thinking because the rocket will have to go through 3 obstacles before reaching the Philippines.”
He said the rocket could be shot down with Patriot missiles once it enters South Korean airspace.
He said the rocket could also be shot down by the Japanese or by a US military base stationed in Okinawa.
“Palagay ko malas na lang makalusot bago makarating sa airspace ng Pilipinas,” he said.
The official said the government is implementing a no-fly, no-sail and no-fishing zone in the path of the rocket on April 12-16 when Pyongyang is expected to fire the rocket into orbit.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines earlier said Tuesday it would divert flights to and from Japan and South Korea to coincide with a planned North Korean rocket launch over fears of falling debris.
Flight paths from Japan and South Korea to Manila airport will be closed on April 12-16, CAAP spokeswoman Joy Songsong said.
"We have issued a NOTAM (notice to airmen) about the airways which we think would be possibly affected by debris in relation to the launch," she told AFP.
"While flight paths will be closing, we have provided alternate routes or other points of entry."
Airlines concerned have been advised about the planned Philippine action, she said, adding she could not say how many flights would be affected.
The United States and its allies fear the rocket launch is a disguised ballistic missile test.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin earlier said the long-range rocket may overshoot its target and its debris may fall within the country’s territory.
The first stage of the rocket will be falling at Yellow Sea off southern South Korea, and the second one will fall at the Pacific Ocean or about 190 kilometers east of Northern Luzon.
North Korea has not given a specific date when it will launch its rocket.
Gazmin said, however, that April 15 is “significant” since it is the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-sung, the country's founding ruler and grandfather of the current ruler. With Agence France-Presse