Philippines to strengthen military facilities in South China Sea

The Philippines said on Friday it would strengthen its military facilities on islands and shoals in the disputed South China Sea and announced initial plans to build a new port and pave an existing rough airstrip.

Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana had been scheduled to inspect an outpost on Thitu, one of the disputed Spratly Islands, but his trip was canceled because of “safety issues” and he spent the day instead at a military base where he unveiled the development plans.

“We will build a runway and a port, a pier, for our ships” on Thitu, Lorenzana told troops at the Western Command’s 41st anniversary. “We are a bit blind in that area.”

Thitu is close to Subi Reef, one of seven manmade islands in the Spratlys that China is accused of militarizing with surface-to-air missiles and other armaments.

The Philippines has squabbled with China for years over the South China Sea, but relations appear to have improved under President Rodrigo Duterte, who was scheduled to meet Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang in Davao City in the southern Philippines on Friday.

The minister said Duterte had given approval to upgrade facilities not only on Thitu but on the eight other features in the South China Sea it occupies.

Defense ministry spokesman Arsenio Andolong said landing on a porous runway on Thitu after heavy rains would have been dangerous.

A senior Philippine general said, however, the military also blocked a planned trip by a group of lawmakers to Thitu on Thursday, more because of concern over how China would react.

“That is a contested area, that is not 100 percent ours,” Lieutenant-General Raul del Rosario told a Congressional hearing on Thursday.

“That’s why we are concerned if you fly there. Every time an aircraft flies there, it gets a warning and there are times they fire flares towards the aircraft.”

The military declined to comment on Rosario’s statement.

A fishing community of about 110 people live on Thitu. China has troops on islands it occupies but not civilians.

China claims most of the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which about $5 trillion of goods passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Andrew Roche)

Source: Reuters “Philippines to strengthen military facilities in South China Sea”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


4 Comments on “Philippines to strengthen military facilities in South China Sea”

  1. Fre Okin says:

    Thitu island is a curse on the Philippines. The island together with Taiping island and others nearby was stolen by a Chinoy Tomas Cloma who collaborated with Fillipino nationalists like Carlos Garcia who was senator, VP and president of PH.

    Back then China was at civil war with Taiwan and was unable to patrol Nansha islands/Spratlys. At that time the KMT embassy in Manila protested against the illegal occupation of Thitu island. Marcos subsequently forced Tomas Cloma to flee PH to Labuan, Malaysia near Sabah and hand over the island to Marcos under his decree declaring it as part of PH. This Chinoy given refuge even led Malaysia to Swallow Reef, Louisa Reef where Malaysia develop oil/gas over there. This is how Malaysia occupy those reefs today.

    If PH is honest, she should acknowledge Marcos illegally annexed Thitu island in 1978 when China was still very weak. Thitu island was not in PH map when US gave her independence. PH will never have real peace with China if the populace there don’t face up to the fact that Thitu island was stolen from China/Taiwan.




    • Steve says:

      Philippines Past Presidents has never been an honest broker, being subservient to foreign powers and considering fellow Filipinos wishes as less important. As the ’51st’ US state, PH Presidents has been submissive especially to the US. Look at Aquino, allowing the US to establish up to eight military bases in Philippines with the aim of starting an Asian war with China. Philippines hope of a normal country is in the hands of President Duterte and establishing geopolitical relations with China economically and militarily. Duterte’s job is tough
      convincing not just his people, but PH military to prevent an army coup.


  2. Mad Max says:

    Beijing, be careful of your foreign aid and trade with the Philippines.

    Mr Duterte Rodrigo may be one of a kind but for many of the Filipinos, be careful. Leopards never change their spots. Filipinos are by nature greedy land grabbers and thugs in that regard. They only respect force.

    The same apply to Indians. Thugs are not civilized people. Force IS the only way.


  3. Simon says:

    Thitu is not 100% Phillipines because it is not even 1% theirs either. So which part of if it that does not make it 100% Phillipines? All of it. In a territorial dispute a country has to believe what they claim as 100% theirs. The moment they accept it is not 100% it is not even 1% so any actvities it conduct are illegal.

    Funny how the Americans don’t challenge Philipines propose plans to build on military structures on disputed islands it claims or in this case not 100% theirs, and settling civilians inhabitant.