Construction activities in West Philippine Sea still on hold
Construction activities on a disputed island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) remain on hold because of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
“We could repair the runway but we cannot undertake because we need to put up a pier so we could ferry our construction materials. That is violation of the DOC. It will change the landscape, so we can’t do it,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Friday.
Gazmin was referring to the runway in Pag-asa Island (Thitu) in the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratlys) that badly needs repair.
China is doing massive reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea while neighboring countries with claims in the disputed waters have also been doing construction activities.
China claims nearly the entire resource-rich sea, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia also have their own claims.
On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said that the repair to an airstrip in Pag-asa Island is allowed because it did not violate the DOC.
The DOC was signed in 2002 by China and 10 Southeast Asian countries in Cambodia.
The Philippines has a pending arbitration case at the Hague and Gazmin said a decision could be out by the end of the year or early next year.
China has not participated in the arbitration case.
“We filed a case so we are only waiting the decision so we know who is entitled to what,” Gazmin said. RC
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.