MANILA – The “radar gun” incident where a Chinese corvette pointed its gun director control at a Filipino naval ship last February 17 will not affect China’s donation of medical supplies to the Philippines.
In a Laging Handa briefing aired over state-run PTV-4 Tuesday, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the incident has nothing to do with Beijing’s efforts to donate medical supplies to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Lorenzana, however, questioned such move of the Chinese ship.
“It is offensive. Why do they need to aim their target acquisition radars on our airplanes and ships? I told the Navy and the Air Force that for sure, they will not fire missiles at them, but this is just like what they always do whenever our troops traverse the West Philippine Sea within our EEZ [exclusive economic zone]. They are challenging us by saying: ‘You are traversing Chinese territory’. But our ships and airplanes say: ‘We are travelling within our EEZ or within Philippine territory’ so it’s only an exchange of messages,” he said in Filipino.
While maintaining that the Chinese forces will not fire, Lorenzana hinted the “radar gun” is to test the reaction of Filipino crew members.
Based on reports from Joint Task Force West, the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) left Puerto Princesa Pier, Palawan on February 15 to do territorial defense operations and sovereignty patrol at the Malampaya Natural Gas to Power Project and at the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea.
While en route to the Rizal Reef Detachment, the ship’s crew detected on radar a grey vessel, prompting the Filipino naval craft to issue a radio challenge.
The other ship responded by saying “the Chinese government has (immutable) sovereignty over the South China Sea, its islands and its adjacent waters”.
BRP Conrado Yap again challenged the vessel and then instructed to proceed directly to its next destination to which the Chinese ship repeated its earlier response and maintained its course and speed.
“Significantly, PS-39 was able to identify the said vessel as PLAN Vessel bearing a bow number 514 (corvette). There, PS-39 was able to visually observed that the gun control director, an equipment that gives information in obtaining a fire control solution of said PLAN vessel was directed towards PS-39.This gun control director can be used to designate and track targets and makes all the main guns ready to fire in under a second,” Western Command (Wescom) head Vice Admiral Rene Medina earlier said.
While BRP Conrado Yap does not have electronic support measures to confirm that the gun control director was directed at it, Medina said visual identification confirmed this hostile intent of the Chinese vessel.
“This hostile act on the part of (the) Chinese government and encroachment within the Philippines’ EEZ is perceived as a clear violation of international law and Philippine sovereignty,” Medina said.
The incident prompted Manila, through the Department of Foreign Affairs to file diplomatic protests against Beijing on April 22. (PNA)