DAVAO CITY, Philippines — In a bid to strengthen the country’s claim in the disputed West Philippine Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military to occupy at least nine of the disputed isands.
In a press briefing in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on Thursday, the President pointed out that the country must make a strong point in order to maintain sovereign jurisdiction over the disputed waters.
“We have to maintain our jurisdiction over South China Sea,” Duterte said. “We tried to be friends with everybody but we have to maintain our jurisdiction now, at least the areas under our control. And I have ordered the armed forces to occupy all – these so many islands, I think nine or ten – build structures and place the Philippine flag,”
These islands were Pag-asa, Ayuning Shoal, Lawak Island, Parola Island, Patag Island, Kota Island, Panata Island, Likas Island, Rizal Reef—all are in the disputed Spratlys region.
The President also revealed that he is planning to visit Pag-asa, the largest of the nine islands, on Independence Day, June 12, to raise the Philippine flag.
“Sa coming Independence Day natin. I might I may go to Pag-asa island to raise the Philippine flag there,” Duterte said. He also vowed to repair and improve the runway in Pag-asa.
“The money is there. I don’t know how the—the Army or the engineering battalion would do it. But that development there has my full support,” he added. (davaotoday.com)