MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino said a Philippine aircraft will fly over Scarborough shoal to determine if there is a need to redeploy Philippine vessels in the area.
He said that there would be no need to send back Philippine ships if no vessel from other countries would be seen during the mission.
"If there is a presence in our territorial waters, then we will redeploy. But if there is no other presence of other vessels that might impinge on our sovereignty, there is no need to deploy and they can go back to their normal routine of safeguarding-the Coast Guard for instance-our coastlines from… [the] wet season," Aquino told reporters.
"And endpoint nito, is there a need for our vessels to be there? That will be determined by the overfly to determine if there are things that we should be guarding. If there are none, we can go. We don't have to go back," he added.
President Aquino said it is "physically impossible" for the Philippines to permanently station vessels in the area. He pointed out that the BFAR and Coast Guard vessels were pulled out from the area because of bad weather.
There are also limitations with the Coast Guard vessel given the depth of the area.
"How do you position somebody 'pag very rough seas?" he said.
He said he would await the data that would come from the fly-by before deciding whether Philippine vessels would be sent back.
The mission was supposed to be conducted Tuesday but was cancelled due to the prevailing weather conditions.
"The guidelines are very, very clear. 'Pag meron pang mag vessels doon na not ours, in our waters, we send back our ships… When you say reevaluate, dumating, nag-overfly ang ating aircraft, may nakita, wala. Pag walang nakita, anong need para ipadala doon?" he said.