The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said the retrieval yesterday of a crashed US military drone off the coast of Masbate island “brings to the fore the persistent and gross violations of Philippine airspace by the US military. The Aquino regime no less,” said the CPP, “has flouted the country’s sovereignty in allowing the US to fly its jetfighters and surveillance drones at will within Philippine territory.”
Fishermen last Sunday retrieved the drone near Sitio Tacdugan, San Jacinto, Masbate. Markings on the drone indicate it to be a BQM-74E Chukar III, a device manufactured by the Northrup Grumman Corporation. The US embassy claimed that the UAV is a target drone used by the US Navy in military exercises, although the device is regularly used in reconnaissance missions or surveillance operations by the US military and is also capable of delivering payloads.
As before, the AFP was fast to defend the US military, claiming that the drone did not fly and crash in Philippine waters but was only carried in by waves, even before any investigation could be carried out, and even before the US military could issue a definitive statement on the matter.
“Whatever the circumstances behind the crashed US military drone retrieved in Masbate, what cannot be denied is the fact that the US has long been flying not only surveillance drones, but military jetfighters within Philippine territorial airspace,” said the CPP. “The US military uses so-called joint military operations as cover to fly its drones to carry out surveillance operations in the Philippines.”
“Benigno Aquino III, the puppet chieftain of the US neocolonial state, has given the US the go-signal to carry out drone surveillance operations,” the CPP said. “In an interview by the foreign press in 2011, Aquino claimed that he does not favor the operations of US strike drones but asserted that surveillance drones are fine, as if this violates Philippine sovereignty any less.”
The CPP asserts that surveillance operations by US military drones constitute involvement in combat operations. “Aquino’s claims that surveillance operations are not violative of Philippine sovereignty reveal his outrageously distorted concept of Philippine territorial integrity.”
The CPP cited reports by the Associated Press that on February 2, 2012, the US military was involved in a Philippine military operation that dropped so-called “smart bombs” in Parang, Jolo to target alleged “key terrorist leaders.”
The CPP also cited an incident on January 29, 2009, where top military and police officials at the 507th PNP Provincial Mobile Group camp in Uson, Masbate witnessed the operation of a US drone by American soldiers that would carry out surveillance operations on the island. The drone, however, caught fire and crashed as it flew over the towns of Pio V Corpus and Esperanza.