DFA 'taking diplomatic action' over Chinese military planes on South China Sea reef

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 18) — The government is "taking diplomatic action" over the reported presence of two Chinese military planes on a reef in the South China Sea, the country's top diplomat said Wednesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) may file a diplomatic protest against China, its chief, Alan Peter Cayetano said in a forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines on Wednesday.

"We have to take it into context of how the dialogues are being done now and we'll make sure that all the other claimants know the Philippines' position which is to totally roll back," Cayetano told foreign journalists.

Cayetano was asked about the report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which said it had obtained photos showing two Chinese military transport planes on Panganiban Reef or Mischief Reef, located in the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

This is part of the country's 200-mile exclusive economic zone as awarded by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in July 2016.

Cayetano said, although the military has yet to verify the report, government authorities said they have never been clueless on what is happening in the different features in the South China Sea.

He said that all claimants and not just the Philippines and China, should talk to each other to resolve issues in the long-standing maritime row.

China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines have overlapping claims in the Spratlys.