Why are US drones patrolling West PH Sea?

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2013 05:17 PM | Updated as of Aug 01 2013 01:17 AM

MANILA - Makabayan bloc congressmen are pushing for an investigation on reports that US military drones have been allowed to fly over the West Philippine Sea.

Gabriela Womens party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan warned about the dangers of allowing US drones to enter Philippine territory.

This is after the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that US drones have been allowed into Philippine territory.

"The DFA has admitted it is allowing drones to come into Philippine territories. We feel this will be a great danger. It poses threats to civilian population because these are instruments we know little about that may be controlled by forces outside territories and have the potential of endangering the civilian population," Ilagan said.

The party-list representatives said she wants the DFA to clarify the issues as laws maybe violated.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio pointed out that the drones were allowed to fly not at the initiative of the Philippines.

"Talagang bahagi ng regular operasyon ng US Navy and they're doing it for their interest. It's upon their discretion. It also raises the question - ano pa ba lihim na operasyon?"

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said US drones fly over Philippine waters during joint military exercises with the United States.

Hernandez said the joint exercises involve the use of P3C Orion aircraft and are aimed at upgrading the skills of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

President Aquino had earlier disclosed that Manila was seeking US deployment of P3C Orion spy planes over the disputed sea.

The P3C Orion, a land-based maritime surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft that can intercept communications, is described as one of the most sensitive planes in the US fleet.

Its reconnaissance flights are focused on Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, a submerged shoal 128 nautical miles off the island province of Palawan. With a report from The Philippine Star