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House to probe AFP fortifications in Spratlys

The House of Representatives will investigate reports that the Armed Forces of the Philippines has not fully developed fortifications to protect the country’s claims in the Spratly Islands.

House Resolution No. 1249, filed by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother, Abante Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, quoted the AFP as saying that other claimant countries, such as China, Vietnam and Malaysia, have strengthened fortifications on islets and shoals they claim in the Spratlys.

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“There is a need to look into this issue in order to ensure that the claims of the Philippines over the Spratlys be respected and our jurisdiction over said islands be not ignored and trampled upon by our neighbors in Asia,” Rufus Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said that from one islet it occupied in 1984, Malaysia now has troops on five islets, including Swallow Reef, where it has a 1,200-meter runway that can accommodate heavy civilian and military transport planes, as well as a naval station.

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Runway repair urgent

He said surveillance photos taken of the Philippine-claimed Kalayaan Island Group showed China’s steady military buildup, including machine gun emplacements, as well as naval vessels anchored on Chigua Reef.

Vietnam has also made impressive improvements on their occupied islands, including new communication equipment on one isle, single-story buildings on several reefs, new buildings on another isle and bunkers on one reef, Rodriguez said.

He said the Philippines’ makeshift structures in areas it claims stood no chance against the firepower of other claimants.

He said the AFP Western Command in Palawan had requested urgent repairs of the runway on Pagasa, the biggest of several islands with Filipino troops, which had never undergone repairs since it was built in 1970.

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TAGS: AFP fortifications, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, House of Representatives, investigation, Kalayaan Island Group, Spratly Islands, Spratlys
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