Philippine President Benigno Aquino said the Philippines may seek the help of the US by deploying its spy planes to monitor Chinese naval activities in the disputed territories in the west Philippine sea
In his spy planes deployment request, Aquino was referring to US P3C Orion, a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft built by Lockheed.
"We might be requesting overflights on that," Aquino told Reuters "We don't have aircraft with those capabilities." he added.
The Philippines and China have been locked in a month-long standoff over the ownership of Scarborough Shoal, a triangle-shaped chain of reefs and rocks or very small islands 55 kilometres (34 mi) in circumference with a total area including shallow water areas of 150 square kilometers.
Scarborough Shoal is located approximately 123 miles (198 km) west of Subic Bay, with its nearest landmass located 127 miles (220 km) away in Palauig, Zambales Philippines. Its distance from nearest China landmass is approximately 472 nautical miles.
In early April, eight Chinese fishing vessels were reportedly caught by Philippine authorities fishing illegally in Scarborough Shoal. The Philippine Navy then dispatched a boarding team to inspect the vessels and to document the catch.
In a statement by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA),“The inspection team reported that large amounts of illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks were found inside the compartments of the first fishing vessel that was boarded by the PN team,”
Later two Chinese maritime surveillance ships managed to block the path of the Philippine vessel, effectively preventing the arrest of the Chinese fisherman. The unfortunate incident resulted in the standoff which has threatened diplomatic efforts in finding lasting solution to the territorial problem in the disputed territory.
China has refused a Philippine proposal for international arbitration, prompting the Philippines to seek assistance from the US in its efforts to protect and secure its coastlines.
The US and the Philippines is currently engaged in a joint military exercise in the West Philippine sea in accordance with their existing military assistance agreement.
According to a report by ABS-CBN News,"The exercises involve around 400 personnel from the Philippine Navy, 350 troops from the US Navy, 150 personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard, and 150 from the US Coast Guard."
The report said the on-going military exercise is not related to the territorial rift between China and Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal standoff.