Lorenzana: No need to fortify Pag-asa Island
MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he saw no need to fortify Pag-asa Island (Thitu) in the West Philippine Sea because there was no threat or imminent attack on the Philippine-occupied territory.
“We will not bring in military equipment to defend it because I don’t think there is any threat of attack on Pag-asa and eight other islands,” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
Pag-asa is the biggest of the Philippine-occupied islands in the West Philippine Sea, and is about 400 kilometers from the mainland. It is the only Philippine-held feature with a civilian community, while the rest are occupied by Filipino troops.
While life has been generally peaceful on the island, Chinese vessels believed to be part of a maritime militia, and the China Coast Guard, loiter near the area.
Just 22 kilometers southwest of the island is Zamora (Subi) Reef, a Chinese-controlled feature which it had transformed into a massive military outpost.
China in recent years had transformed reefs and islands into outposts fitted and equipped with harbors, airstrips, missile shelters, communications facilities which expanded its ability to monitor its and rivals’ activities in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims to almost entirely own.
Lorenzana said the Philippine government has just completed the construction of a beaching ramp, which means the much-needed repair of the 1.3 kilometer runway can finally begin.
“We can now bring in more supplies especially in the repair of the runway, because the next project will be the repair of the runway,” Lorenzana said.
“We can now bring in materials and heavy equipment. We can also bring in construction materials to improve the living quarters of our people and also help the people there,” he said.
Edited by TSB
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