‘Government cleared Chinese military plane landing’

By Alexis Romero, Edith Regalado | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The refueling of a Chinese military aircraft in Davao City last week was cleared by the Philippine government following coordination with aviation authorities, Malacañang announced yesterday.

Citing records of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Chinese plane made a brief technical stop at the Davao City International Airport for refueling on June 8.

Photos of the aircraft on social media fueled speculation that it was one of the planes used to patrol the South China Sea, including areas over which the Philippines has been awarded sovereign rights.

But security officials said the plane was on its way back to China from Australia.

“Relevant government agencies closely coordinated for the aircraft’s refueling, which followed established procedures,” Roque said in a statement.

President Duterte’s special assistant Christopher “Bong” Go confirmed that the Chinese plane’s request to land was received, processed and cleared by Philippine government agencies.

The landing was requested for the purpose of refueling and was granted with specific conditions for compliance by the requesting party, Go said.

The aircraft, identified as an IL-76 military transport plane, cannot fly more than 3,000 kilometers without refueling if carrying a full load. The aircraft is designed to conduct tactical and strategic airlift missions, transport of troops and evacuation.

Roque said the Chinese plane used local handler Transnational Aviation Support Service to arrange the requirements for the permit. The flight was given an entry and exi_t permit like any other private flight.

“As verified and reported by the CAAP, no movement of passengers was made outside the terminal building,” the presidential spokesman said.

“The same courtesy is extended to Philippine government aircraft when technical stops need to be undertaken in other countries,” Roque added.

Photos of the Chinese aircraft landing in Davao City circulated on social networking sites on Saturday.

According to Go, the Departments of National Defense and Foreign Affairs as well as the CAAP worked together to ensure that the requesting party complied with domestic procedures.

The military was apparently kept out of the loop on the landing of the Chinese military plane.

But Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal confirmed that the Chinese aircraft made a brief stopover in Davao for refueling on its way back to China from Australia.

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