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Lack of fighter jets won’t stop Spratlys defense–PAF chief

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‘With warm bodies, if we die, we die,’ he says

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:07:00 03/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The lack of fighter jets will not stop the Philippine Air Force (PAF) from defending the country’ claim to the disputed Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea, the PAF commanding general said Friday.

When asked how the PAF would protect the reportedly oil-rich islands, Lieutenant General Pedrito Cadungog said, “[With] warm bodies, if we die, we die. Our mission is that simple.”

The PAF decommissioned the last of its F-5 fighter jets in 2005. It has converted several of its S211 trainer jets into fighter aircraft.

Acknowledging the PAF’s lack of air capability, Ceding said: “It is nearly impossible that we can claim sovereignty. As far as we are concerned, being truly Filipino, and understanding sovereignty, we offer our service and our lives over that part of our country.”

Cadungog issued the statement amid the controversy generated by the
Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU), a tripartite agreement among the Philippines, China, and Vietnam.

The political opposition is claiming that the Philippine government had softened its claim on the Spratlys by entering into the JMSU, in exchange for a multimillion-dollar loan package from China.

The Spratlys is being claimed in whole or in part by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

On Monday, Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. visited Pag-asa Island in the Spratlys to “reinforce” the country’s claim on the islands.

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-03-28T07:53:05+00:00UTC03bUTCFri, 28 Mar 2008 07:53:05 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am03

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