Duterte aide Bong Go downplays 2nd Chinese plane landing in Davao as ‘intriga’

Bong Go (Photos: Presidential Communications official Facebook page)

By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA — Special Assistant to the President Christopher ‘Bong’ Go has dismissed as “nothing unusual” the second landing of a Chinese military plane in Davao, adding that those who were highlighting the landing were merely sowing intrigue last June 24.

Go said the aircraft was “received, processed and cleared by relevant Philippine agencies and was allowed out of courtesy.”

“I think pangalawa na ito na nag re-fuel sa Davao, I think, kung meron man today. Di ko pa po nabalitaan,” Go told reporters.

In a report by The Philippine Star last Sunday, Malacañang confirmed the second landing of a Chinese aircraft in Davao but clarified it followed local protocols.

According to reports, the Chinese plane landed at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport minutes past noon last Saturday. The landing happened two weeks after a Chinese military aircraft landed in the city and stirred speculations about China’s activities in the Philippines.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified that the Chinese plane had a stop-over in Davao City to refuel.

“(The purpose was the) same as (the purpose of the) first (landing). They stopped to re-fuel with all permits issued by our authorities,” Roque said in a text message sent to the Philippine Star.

“All licenses, permits and protocols (were) issued and observed,” Roque added.

Meanwhile, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana also confirmed the landing, adding that the aircraft came at noon and left around 2 p.m.

“The Chinese military transport plane this time re-fueled on its way back to China from New Zealand,” Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, commander of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) said, adding that there was nothing extraordinary about the incident as the Civil Aviation Authority (CVA) approved the landing and refueling.

Madrigal added that the landing was also coordinated with the Department of National Defense and that such aircraft also landed in other countries like Indonesia to re-fuel.

The speculations surrounding the Chinese aircraft’s second landing in the Philippines were sparked by the earlier landing of an IL-76 Chinese military transport this month. The plane also made a technical stop in Davao City to re-fuel; raising speculation on China’s intensifying presence in the Philippines.

“Officials maintained that the aircraft, which was bound for Cairns, Australia coordinated with aviation authorities and complied with procedures. They claimed that the same courtesy is extended to Philippine government planes when technical stops need to be undertaken in other countries,” the Philippine Star reported.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, demmed the latest landing as ‘unusual.’

“We have no formal military agreements with China which makes landings like that unusual especially if high defense officials were not aware. On the other hand, we have an existing visiting forces agreement with Australia and the U.S.,” Alejano posted on Twitter.

Go also said Alejano could ask military officials themselves if there was anything amiss about the landing of the Chinese military plane in Davao.

In another report by The Philippine Star, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua described notions that China is planning to invade the Philippines as “nonsense.”

“I’m really puzzled and even surprised that some of the people here (are) taking the landing of Chinese military jets as a kind of military threat to the Philippines. And even they indicated that this might be the beginning of our invasion,” Jianhua told reporters in Cavite last Philippine Independence Day.

“Please allow me to be blunt, it’s nonsense. We have never thought of going to war with our good neighbor, our good friend that is the Philippines,” Jianhua added.