MANILA - Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and his team were warned by the Chinese Navy while their plane was flying to Pag-asa Island on Saturday.
In a video released by Partido Reporma on Sunday, Lacson and his team, who were on board a private Pilatus PC-12 aircraft from Puerto Princesa City, received a warning on their way to Pag-asa Island.
"Authorities from the Chinese Navy radioed with the following message: “You are approaching our military zone. Please stay away from the area and leave immediately. Your actions are unfriendly and dangerous. Your actions are dangerous.”
“This is Chinese Navy. You are approaching our military alert zone. Leave immediately in order to avoid misjudgment,” the Chinese authorities later added
According to Partido Reporma spokesperson Ashley Acedillo, there were no untoward incidents, and they were able to defuse the tension with a standard reply.
"Mayroon naman pong standard na reply at bago tayo lumipad doon nagkaroon po ng koordinasyon ang mga pribadong piloto natin sa mga awtoridad natin sa AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” said Acedillo who joined Lacson on his visit.
(Our private pilots had a standard reply and before we flew to there, they had coordination with our authorities from the AFP.)
Lacson admitted that he found the warning unusual, adding that he received a "Welcome to China" message on his mobile phone as soon as they landed in Pag-asa Island.
The presidential aspirant on Saturday visited Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea amid tensions in the disputed waters.
Pag-asa Island, located some 450 kilometers west of mainland Palawan, hosts Kalayaan town, home to a military outpost and a civilian community.
Lacson, chairman of Partido Reporma, is on the island with senatorial aspirant and former police chief Guillermo Eleazar, former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and the party's secretary-general Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib, the senator's camp said.
The senator is chair of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation.
The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone in the resource-rich and disputed South China Sea, 90 percent of which is being claimed by Beijing.
A 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague junked China's claims and ruled in favor of Manila. Beijing has since shunned the ruling and continues military and island-building activities in the resource-rich waters.
This week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said 3 Chinese vessels “blocked and water cannoned” 2 Philippine supply boats in Ayungin Shoal this week.
The boats were supposed to transport food supplies to military personnel in the area.
The agency criticized the incident and said these were illegal because the Chinese vessels were in the country's territory.
Analysts have said that the West Philippine Sea should be a primary concern in the 2022 elections.