Author Topic: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea  (Read 25269 times)

dr demented

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2017, 09:14:17 PM »
And the expected blowback from China.......

http://pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=0&sid=&nid=0&rid=981716

Quote
China alarmed by PHL military officials’ visit to Pagasa Island
By Jelly F. Musico

BEIJING, April 22 -- China has lodged representations with the Philippine side following a visit by the Filipino defense and military officials in Pagasa Island, according to the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

”Gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this, China has lodged representations with the Philippine side,” Lu Kang said in a press statement posted on China’s Foreign Ministry Affairs website.

Last Friday, Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Año, along with other military officials, visited Pagasa Island, a Philippine-occupied territory that is part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

Lu said the move of the Philippines defense and military officials has negated the important consensus reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

”This move runs counter to the important consensus reached between the two leadership, which is to properly deal with the South China Sea issue,” Lu said.

Lu said China is hoping that the Philippine government would continue to cherish a five-decade China-Philippines bilateral relations which rejuvenated under the leadership of President Duterte.

”We hope that the Philippine side could faithfully follow the consensus reached between the two leadership, maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea, and promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations,” he said.

Since President Duterte’s visit in China last year, Lu said China and the Philippines have been keeping good communication to properly manage and resolve the maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

”We hope that this momentum can continue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry official said.

In media reports, Lorenza described the trip to Pagasa Island as a “normal visit within our territory”.

”We believe and we know that this is our territory and I am just visiting to look at the conditions of our people here,” the top Filipino defense official said.

Pagasa Island was occupied by the Philippines in the late 1960s and is categorized as a fifth-class municipality of Palawan province.

Lorenza has revealed a plan to set aside at least PHP1.6 billion to develop Pagasa Island and a proposal by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to build a fish port in the area. (PNA)

dr demented

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2017, 09:16:57 PM »
Send in the Seabees.

http://pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=&nid=1&rid=981715

Quote
Special construction troops eyed for Pagasa Island projects: Lorenzana

MANILA, April 22 -- Specialized construction and engineering troops from the Philippine Navy and Air Force will play a key role in the upgrading of various facilities in Pagasa Island, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday.

This is especially true when it comes to building facilities involving ship docking and unloading of cargoes.

"We must first construct the so-called beaching ramp because if that facility is not yet ready, then we cannot bring in LSTs (landing ship, tanks) to bring in building materiel due to lack of docking facilities. So the beaching ramp is the first priority. The Navy already has a plan to build that and use their Seabees (Naval Construction Brigade) in constructing and completing that project before July," Lorenzana added in Filipino.

Engineering battalions from the Air Force could be deployed if needed.

He disclosed that once the beaching ramp is completed, construction activities can continue even in the most adverse weather as building supplies and engineering equipment can be stockpiled safely and easily.

Construction projects eyed for Pagasa Island include the concreting of the 1.2-km. Rancudo Airstrip, development of ports, installation of additional solar panels and generator sets, desalination plants, new quarters for military personnel, the establishment of a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources marine research and shelter center, and an ice plant for storing fish caught by the islanders.

These projects have a budget of PHP1.6 billion, Lorenzana added. (PNA)
PFN

adroth

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2017, 01:55:58 PM »
April 20 at 11:51pm
PAG-ASA ISLAND. With CSAFP Gen Eduardo M Año and other defense officials at our Barangay Pag-Asa, Municipality of Kalayaan, Palawan, to check on the community and our troops. #WestPHSea #OneDefenseTeamPH #DelTheDefender #DefendersPH




adroth

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2017, 04:06:26 PM »
'Pag-asa Island visit shows stronger PH position on sea disputes'
ABS-CBN News
Posted at Apr 24 2017 10:09 AM | Updated as of Apr 24 2017 11:47 AM

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/04/24/17/pag-asa-island-visit-shows-stronger-ph-position-on-sea-disputes

dr demented

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2017, 05:10:29 PM »
'Pag-asa Island visit shows stronger PH position on sea disputes'
ABS-CBN News
Posted at Apr 24 2017 10:09 AM | Updated as of Apr 24 2017 11:47 AM

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/04/24/17/pag-asa-island-visit-shows-stronger-ph-position-on-sea-disputes

Heydarian, who was interviewed on the ABS-CBN report, further expounds on his analysis in this Asia Times article:
(acknowledgement to the owner of another defense page who put it up on his FB page)

Quote
Duterte’s China honeymoon comes to a close

After a period of cordial ties Beijing and Manila are now openly sparring over their South China Sea disputes as both sides fortify their claims

By Richard Javad Heydarian Manila, April 25, 2017 3:24 PM

Ten months into Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte’s tenure, his strategic honeymoon with China has devolved into rocky relations. While the two sides will likely continue dialogue and negotiations to prevent armed conflict in the South China Sea and pursue more robust economic ties, both sides are simultaneously hardening their positions over contested territories.

That became starkly apparent during the recent diplomatic scuffle over Manila’s decision to dispatch top defense officials to a contested island feature in the Spratly islands. While China protested the move as a provocation, the Philippines portrayed the visit as routine, despite the fact no high level officials had traveled to the maritime feature in several years.

During his election campaign, Duterte expressed a strong interest in building more amicable and cooperative relations with Beijing, which he has said he views as a crucial partner for economic development. In that direction, shortly after his election win, Duterte vowed to adopt a more “independent” foreign policy which would be less reliant on the United States.

The tough-talking leader has prioritized improving ties with Beijing, which openly welcomed the departure of Duterte’s predecessor, Beningo Aquino, who had boosted strategic ties with the US and staked out what some viewed as a confrontational strategy in the South China Sea disputes. Duterte’s turn entailed several concessions to China that his critics claim could erode national sovereignty and security in pursuit of economic gains.

Those include a decision to deemphasize the Philippines’ landmark international arbitration win that invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea; cancellation of several joint military exercises with the US, namely the US-Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex) and Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Exercise (Carat); stopping the US from using Philippine ports for freedom of navigation operations; and refusal to allow the US to develop the strategic Bautista Airbase on the island province of Palawan.

In an increasingly strained balancing act, Duterte will no doubt continue to shower China with praise as he pursues closer economic ties. Duterte is scheduled to visit China in May to attend the One Road, One Belt (OBOR) mega-summit, where he is expected to hold bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in pursuit of new Chinese infrastructure investments. The two leaders met last year in Beijing in a tour many analysts at the time saw as a decisive diplomatic shift.

But China’s fast growing network of airbases and military facilities on disputed South China Sea land features, without a mutually acceptable modus vivendi in place to avoid conflicts at sea, has pushed his government and top generals to draw a harder line in the sand.

Philippine officials say they are adopting a more nuanced hedging strategy, whereby they bid to manage relations with China through a fluid mix of deterrence and engagement. In the past month, Manila has made clear that it seeks to fortify its position on features it claims in the South China Sea, as officials say both China and Vietnam are doing, and will no longer ignore the rising threat posed by China’s expanding strategic footprint in Philippine-claimed waters.

“We hope that the Philippine side could cherish the hard-won sound momentum of development [in] bilateral relations [we] are experiencing,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang in response to last week’s visit by top Filipino defense officials to disputed Spratly island features. “[China is] gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this, [and] has lodged representations with the Philippine side.”

The ministry also cautioned Manila to “faithfully follow the consensus” reached between the two national leaders in October last year.

Ernesto Abella, Duterte’s spokesman, fired back by saying that the trip was “part of efforts to improve the safety, welfare, [and] livelihood of Filipinos residing and living in the municipality of Kalayaan,” using the Philippines’ preferred word for the Spratlys.

In response to reports that a nearby Chinese military detachment at Subi Reef tried to drive away the plane that carried Filipino defense officials, including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the president’s office said “The Philippines has long been undertaking customary and routine maritime patrol and overflight in the West Philippine Sea,” and that they “are lawful activities under international law.”

Weeks earlier, Beijing was openly vexed when Duterte announced with bravado that he will visit and plant the Philippine flag in the hotly-disputed Thitu Island (Pag-asa to Filipinos), the second largest naturally-formed land feature in the Spratlys. The island, which hosts an airstrip and civilian and military populations, has been under Manila’s administration since the 1970s. He also ordered troops to occupy and protect Philippine-claimed land features in the area.

Duterte later cancelled his plan to visit the features, in a convoluted nod towards Beijing’s displeasure. “China sent word, ‘Please do not do that,’ Well, in the meantime, just do not go there. Please?'” Duterte said in explaining his decision to walk back his decision. “So, because of our friendship with China, and because we value your friendship, I will not go there to raise the Philippine flag. Maybe I’ll send my son.”

Soon thereafter Duterte gave the go-ahead to defense minister Delfin Lorenzana and armed forces chief of staff Eduardo Año to visit the disputed land feature, which China also considers part of its national territory under its wide-reaching nine-dash map. It was the first time in years that top Filipino defense officials traveled to the features. Lorenzana later described the trip as “routine.”

Unlike his predecessor Aquino, who prioritized mainly legal strategies against China, Duterte has earmarked 1.6 billion pesos (US$35 million) for the refurbishment and upgrade of Filipino facilities in the Spratlys. The supposedly China-friendly Duterte has thus ironically taken a tougher position on the ground, committing resources and deploying defense officials to strengthen the Philippines’ position.

Those efforts have been spearheaded by Lorenzana, a decorated general and former attaché to Washington who also hails from Duterte’s home island of Mindanao. In recent months, Lorenzana has been among the most outspoken advocates for more robust resistance against China’s maritime ambitions, while emphasizing the importance of maintaining strong security cooperation with America.

China is no doubt starting to realize that Duterte’s government, which has taken a more pragmatic position on the territorial disputes, will not be an easy strategic pushover, even with Beijing’s rich offers of economic assistance. In ‘good cop, bad cop’ fashion, the defense establishment is taking a stronger stand against China’s maritime ambitions near the Philippines’ coasts, while Duterte maintains a diplomatic charm offensive towards Beijing.


adroth

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Duterte to China: It's PH duty to 'repair' Pag-asa Island facilities
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2017, 09:46:37 PM »
Duterte to China: It's PH duty to 'repair' Pag-asa Island facilities

The Philippine President says repairs of facilities in Pag-asa Island will push through despite China's displeasure
Pia Ranada
@piaranada
Published 6:35 PM, May 01, 2017
Updated 9:05 PM, May 01, 2017

http://www.rappler.com/nation/168536-duterte-philippines-duty-repair-pag-asa-island-facilities   

PUSHING THROUGH. The Philippines will not junk its plans to improve Pag-asa Island facilities, says President Rodrigo Duterte, who is shown here as he visited Chinese warships docked in Davao City on May 1, 2017. Malacañang photo

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte defended his plan to improve facilities in disputed Pag-asa Island amid China's declaration that such activities are "illegal."

"Yes of course, that's part of our duty as a nation," he said when asked by a reporter if he would continue his plans to improve facilities, including a runway and bunkhouses for military, in the island.

Duterte was giving an interview on Monday, May 1, right after visiting 3 Chinese warships docked at Sasa Wharf in Davao City.

Asked about statements from the Chinese embassy calling any activities by the Philippines on Pag-asa Island "illegal," Duterte downplayed the government's plans.

"It's just repairs. Well, they can always look away, look around," he said.

< Edited >

adroth

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2017, 06:13:25 PM »
No stopping PH construction on Pag-asa, says DND
By: Leila Salaverria, Philip C. Tubeza - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 01:41 AM May 05, 2017
Plans to construct more structures on Pag-asa Island in the Spratlys would go ahead despite claims by China it was illegal, officials said on Thursday.

But construction activities might take longer than expected as the government has to rebid portions of the construction project, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana said that the government has an existing contract to develop the island, the biggest the Philippines controls in the Spratlys, but this might have to be renegotiated.

“We are still preparing because apparently, many years ago, there was already a contract to repair [facilities on the island]. So, we are reviving the contract,” Lorenzana said.

He said Luzviminda Corp., the company contracted to do the repairs, still existed and has said it was willing to undertake the project. “So they’re still [checking] if the price is right so that we can renegotiate the contract,” Lorenzana said.



Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/156080/no-stopping-ph-construction-pag-asa-says-dnd#ixzz4gjDrXECB
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

adroth

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2017, 12:26:48 AM »
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

From the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative......

Quote
Confirming the Chinese Flotilla Near Thitu Island

ublished: August 17, 2017

On August 15, Philippine Congressman Gary Alejano released photographs of Chinese vessels, including fishing, coast guard, and navy ships, that he claimed had been operating within 1 to 3 nautical miles of Philippine-occupied Thitu, or Pag-asa, Island. Citing military sources, the congressman said that at least two fishing ships, two Chinese naval vessels, and a China Coast Guard ship were operating around Thitu by August 12, with others, including at least one more navy ship, arriving over the next three days. Thitu is the largest of the Philippines’ 10 occupied features in the Spratly Islands and is home to more than 100 Filipino civilians.

Alejano further claimed that the fishing ships included members of China’s maritime militia and that these vessels prevented a ship from the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources from approaching the area on August 13. Finally, he said that a helicopter dispatched from one of the Chinese naval vessels was seen flying over unoccupied sandbars to the west/northwest of Thitu twice on August 15. All of this suggested to Alejano that, “The Chinese may have a sinister plan to occupy sandbars just west of Pag-asa that belong to us.”

So far neither Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana nor Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano have confirmed or denied Alejano’s claims. AMTI imagery of the area from August 13 can help shine some light on the situation. On that day, there were nine Chinese fishing ships and two naval/law enforcement vessels visible near Thitu (locations 1 and 2), with others possibly under cloud cover. It is impossible to know if any of those ships might be affiliated with the maritime militia, but at least two appear to be actively fishing (locations 6 and 8), with their nets visibly in the water. There also appears to be a Philippine fishing boat docked at the nearest of the unoccupied sandbars (location 12), possibly sent out from Thitu to investigate the Chinese presence.

The fishing vessels (locations 3-11) are all located between 1 and 5 nautical miles from Thitu, while the nearest military/law enforcement ship is about 3.6 nautical miles from the island. The ships are between 9 and 14.25 nautical miles from Chinese-occupied Subi Reef to the southwest. It is important to note that ownership of the territorial waters in which these ships are operating is still legally disputed. Subi was a low-tide elevation before China built an artificial island on it. As such, it does not generate its own territorial sea but could bump out the territorial sea of at least one of the unoccupied sand cays, which is dry at high tide and located less than 12 nautical miles from it. So it could be claimed that these ships are all operating within the territorial sea of both Thitu and the sand cay(s) with which Subi is associated.

Setting aside whether Chinese ships legally can fish within 1 nautical mile of Thitu Island, there is no doubt that doing so is highly provocative and runs counter to the narrative of a stable mutually-beneficial new status quo that Beijing has sought to project. The fact that law enforcement and naval vessels accompanied the fishermen makes it clear that this was not done without Chinese authorities being aware. At best, they permitted their operation. At worst, they escorted and guarded them. The number and rapid coordination of naval and coast guard ships suggests that this was purposely organized in advance and was not just an ad hoc response by government vessels that happened to be in the area.

One possible explanation for the flotilla’s sudden and provocative appearance is that Beijing wanted to dissuade Manila from planned construction on Thitu. The Philippine government has said it plans to spend about $32 million on upgrades including a beaching ramp, desalination facilities, and long-overdue repairs to the islet’s crumbling runway. Those upgrades have been delayed, reportedly due to inclement weather, but Lorenzana has made clear that they remain in the pipeline. In light of this week’s events, Manila might feel that those upgrades are even more urgent.















« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 12:30:01 AM by adroth »

adroth

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2017, 10:47:53 PM »
FINALLY . . . the PN's own FB page shows improvements to BRP Sierra Madre

https://www.facebook.com/navalforceswest/posts/1448060261915503



That means . . . information about these improvements are fair game. This how the garrison NOW looks on Google Maps.



This is how it looked during the previous administration. Contrast this with the condition of the ship today. Details of what else has been done within the vessel are not open to the public.




adroth

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2017, 09:26:45 AM »
ATIN ITO  |  PAG-ASA Island development to start soon
Posted by Alvin Santiago  on September 1, 2017 at 2:22 PM

http://dwdd.com.ph/2017/09/01/atin-ito-pag-asa-island-development-to-start-soon/

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The Department of National Defense (DND) has awarded the contract for the construction of a ramp and tarmac in the Philippine-occupied PAGASA Island in the West Philippine Sea.

According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, they will leave it to the contractor’s decision on when they will start the construction of the said facilities, although it should be done before July because of the rough sea condition in the area during that period.

He added that right, the contractor would be have a hard time bringing in construction materials to the island because of bad weather and sea condition.

It can be recalled that the government announced the plan to develop PAGASA Island, which is currently being occupied by a military detachment and a small community.

< Edited >

Kulas Mata

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Lorenzana: Repairs of Pagasa Island 'to go on smoothly'
« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2017, 06:24:33 AM »
DESPITE China's adversarial stance, the Philippine government’s plan to improve the facilities in the disputed Pagasa Island would “go on smoothly,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Friday.

Speaking to Palace reporters, Lorenzana said the administration was expecting China’s protest as it proceeds with the repairs of dilapidated runway and construction of new facilities on Philippine-occupied Pagasa Island. But the Defense chief was confident that China would not carry out “violent actions” against the Philippines since both countries already established “good working relationship.”

“I don’t think they will do any violent action. They will protest. I was told by [Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua] that anything we do there, they are going to protest. It’s okay. Anyway, whatever you do there, they also protest,” Lorenzana said.

“What we are doing is improving our own, the islands that we are occupying. We have occupied since 1969, the first time we occupied those islands there in the Kalayaan Island Group. So that’s the status quo now. I’m sure that the repair of Pagasa will go on smoothly,” he added.

Lorenzana said the government had allocated P1.6 billion to restore the eroding facilities in the Pagasa Island.

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2017/09/15/lorenzana-repairs-pagasa-island-go-smoothly-564288

This comes after the Chinese have just donated 65 million pesos for the wounded AFP troops in Marawi. "Good working relationship" indeed. ;D

adroth

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #27 on: September 21, 2017, 02:43:47 AM »
FINALLY . . . the PN's own FB page shows improvements to BRP Sierra Madre

https://www.facebook.com/navalforceswest/posts/1448060261915503



While the plans for making these improvements have been around for years . . . the decision to pull the trigger was actually made during THIS administration. Got multi-service confirmation on this point from well-known, and respected, Timawa / DefensePH sources on this point.


adroth

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2017, 09:49:41 PM »
Philippines Plans Low-Key Upgrades in Disputed Spratly Islands
September 29, 2017 1:45 AM
Ralph Jennings

https://www.voanews.com/a/philippines-upgrades-spratly-islands/4049381.html

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — The Philippines has found funding for the biggest in a series of infrastructure upgrades planned on the islets it holds in the contested South China Sea, a move that will gently remind other countries, including China, of Manila’s claims.

Money from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Modernization Program will next year fund the paving of a 1,300-meter-long gravel and dirt runway on Thitu Island, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was quoted saying this month. Thitu anchors Manila’s holdings in the Spratly archipelago, which is also disputed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The runway upgrade is expected to lead to repairs of barracks, water systems and other infrastructure on nine Spratly islets controlled by the Philippines per a pledge in April from the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte.

< Edited >

adroth

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Re: Duterte orders AFP to occupy PHL islands in South China Sea
« Reply #29 on: November 07, 2017, 09:14:48 PM »
While improvements on Pag-asa island proceed . . .

Quote
PHL starts construction near China's man-made islands in disputed waters
Published November 7, 2017 7:29pm

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/632272/phl-starts-construction-near-china-s-man-made-islands-in-disputed-waters/story/?utm_source=GMANews&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_campaign=news

The Philippines has started upgrading military facilities on the biggest features it occupies in the disputed South China Sea, its defense secretary said on Tuesday, asserting Manila's claims in the strategic waterway.

Delfin Lorenzana said a contractor was building a beach ramp on Thitu Island, locally known as Pag-asa (hope), the largest of nine features the Philippines holds in the Spratly islands.

"While construction is ongoing, albeit intermittently, depending on good weather, we expect its completion by early 2018," Lorenzana said, adding the monsoon rains have been hampering the building of the beach ramp.

"No construction can proceed without a good beaching ramp."

< Edited >

Lorenzana said the ramp was important to allow large naval ships to deliver construction materials to repair and upgrade the island's airfield, fix structures and build a new port for fishermen.

A small community lives on Thitu, ostensibly to prop up the country's claim, although conditions are basic compared to those enjoyed by Vietnamese and Chinese on other islands in the Spratly chain.

Defense department spokesman Arsenio Andolong said the government would spend more than 1.3 billion pesos ($25.3 million) for the upgrades on Thitu.

< Edited >

 . . . Duterte has reportedly stopped plans to build additional structures on previously unoccupied cays

Its worth noting that the latter does not actually affect the former.

Quote
Philippines backs down in S. China Sea after Beijing protest

Associated Press   
JIM GOMEZ
Associated PressNovember 7, 2017

https://ph.news.yahoo.com/philippines-backs-down-china-sea-beijing-protest-035122143.html

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte stopped construction work on a newly formed sandbar in the disputed South China Sea after China protested, the defense chief said Wednesday, disclosing details of the new territorial spat for the first time.

The dispute over a string of sandbars called Sandy Cay emerged in August and prompted China and the Philippines to consider negotiating some sort of protocol or arrangement to allow both sides to prevent such incidents from spiraling out of control, Lorenzana said.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 03:00:02 AM by adroth »