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PAF fighter jets escort Marcos flight to US

Two FA-50  fighter jets of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Sunday escorted the flight carrying President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his delegation as it left the country for New York.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, PAF said the two jets escorted the presidential flight for a few minutes in the eastern front of the Philippines, from over Polillo Island up to 200 nautical miles.

“Fighter escorting, more than just a tradition, is an essential standard operating procedure to clear and secure our air space for the arrival and departure of the President of the Republic and other visiting heads of state,” PAF said.

PAF added that the procedure was also being practiced in other countries for added security of their respective presidential flights.

PAF spokesperson Colonel Ma. Consuelo Castillo said it was the first time the FA-50 fighter jets were able to escort Marcos on a foreign trip. The chief executive also went on state visits in Indonesia and Singapore on September 4 to 7, 2022.

“During the earlier presidential trips, our fighter jets had been committed for priority patrol missions elsewhere that needed its urgent presence and considering that we have limited aircraft, our government's priority is for our aircraft to be utilized for such urgent and critical missions,” she said.

Marcos flew to the United States for a six-day working visit, highlighted by his attendance at the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. He is set to return to the Philippines on September 24.

Castillo said PAF is also eyeing to conduct another fighter escort mission for Marcos' return flight to the country.

After escorting Marcos’ flight on Sunday, PAF said the two fighter jets resumed the conduct of regular maritime patrol to secure the country from unauthorized intrusions within the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone.

Maritime patrols were likewise done to monitor developments and illegal activities within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. —Giselle Ombay/KBK, GMA News