The Philippines will continue its plans to rehabilitate Pagasa Island (Thitu Island) amid renewed concerns in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Eduardo Año said on Tuesday.
“Ang priority natin ay ma-improve ang kalagayan ng Pagasa lalo na ‘yung pag-refurbish at pag renovate ng runway dito,” he told reporters.
(Our priority is to improve the condition at Pagasa, particularly the refurbishment of the runway there.)
“Wala naman violation ng (There is no violation of) Declaration of Code of Conduct. You can improve the islands, reefs, shoals that you are presently occupying. Ang hindi lang pinapayagan ay ang pag-occupy ng (What is not allowed is the occupation of) additional area, island or atolls,” he added.
All nine detachments of the Philippine claims in the West Philippine Sea are manned by sailors and marines.
The AFP chief’s statement comes as reports of presence of Chinese ships in Sandy Cay, a sandbar off the coast of Pagasa Island recently.
No Chinese flag
It was not a Chinese flag that was planted on a sand cay located seven nautical miles off Philippine-controlled Kota Island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) but an indigenous pole meant for sailors, Año said.
“It was just an indigenous pole with sort of plastics and sacks..tingin namin ginawa itong guide para sa mga naglalayag (We think this would serve as a guide for the seafarers),” he said.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano recently alleged that a three-meter high Chinese flag was planted by a Chinese vessel on the said sand cay around the third week of July this year.
It was implied that the Chinese planted the pole but he said the Philippines removed it.
“We are the ones that removed. Tinanggal natin ‘yun (We removed it),” Año said. IDL
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