Philippines to upgrade facilities, not occupy new areas in disputed sea: military


By Manuel Mogato | MANILA Fri Apr 7, 2017 | 3:56am EDT

The Philippines will upgrade existing facilities on its inhabited islands and reefs in the South China Sea and not occupy new territories, adhering to a 2002 informal code in the disputed waters, defense and military officials said on Friday.

A statement from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s office on Thursday said he had ordered troops to occupy uninhabited islands and shoals that the Philippines claims in the disputed waterway, asserting Philippine sovereignty in an apparent change of tack likely to anger China.

The firebrand leader, who on the campaign trail joked that he would jet ski to a Chinese man-made island in the South China Sea to reinforce Manila’s claim, also said he may visit a Philippine-controlled island to raise the national flag.

But defense and military officials have subsequently clarified the president’s comments.

“The president’s order was very crystal clear. Occupy only the existing areas that we claim,” a navy commander, privy to development plans in the South China Sea, told Reuters on Friday.

“The Philippines is not allowed to do that, occupy new territories in the Spratly, based on the 2002 agreement,” said the navy official.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday expressed concern at Duterte’s reported remarks and said it hoped the Philippines could continue to properly manage maritime disputes with China.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, where about $5 trillion worth of sea-borne goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims.

The president’s comments were made after he was briefed by defense and military brass about South China Sea developments in Palawan, according to his communications office. “What he really meant was the already-occupied areas,” military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla told reporters on Thursday.

Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana said there were plans to only repair and upgrade facilities in the Spratly.

“The president wants facilities built such as barracks for the men, water and sewage disposal systems, power generators, light houses, and shelters for fishermen,” Lorenzana said.

Another general, who also declined to be named, said there were development plans in the South China Sea in 2012, which included building a secured port on Thitu island, helicopter pads in three smaller islands, where troops are deployed.

But the plan, which also called for an increase in troop deployment in the occupied islands, was stopped after the Philippines in 2013 filed an arbitration case against China in The Hague.

The Philippines occupies nine “features”, or islands and reefs, in the South China Sea, including a World War II-vintage transport ship which ran aground on Second Thomas Shoal in the late 1990s.

The U.S. State Department declined comment on Duterte’s remarks, but has in the past urged rival South China Sea claimants to lower tensions and resolve differences in accordance with international law.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: Reuters “Philippines to upgrade facilities, not occupy new areas in disputed sea: military”

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

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10 Comments on “Philippines to upgrade facilities, not occupy new areas in disputed sea: military”

  1. Joseph says:

    So, Duterte said ‘upgrade the facilities’, Reuters said ‘occupy the islands’. If Duterte said ‘clean the toilets’, Reuters would definitely say ‘bomb the islands’. Is this the kind of fake news that Google tried to ‘screen out’ by its reader voting system. Most likely Google will screen out the real news and vote its fake news up to make it the ‘real news’. Or as they love to say now, the ‘alternative fact’. Only in the West that ‘facts’ will have ‘alternative’.

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  2. […] “Philippines to upgrade facilities, not occupy new areas in disputed sea: military” […]

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  3. Steve says:

    Should Philippines occupy new islands militarily, China will grab back Zhongye island and build on Huangyan shoal.

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    • Simon says:

      More correctly if Phillipines send troops to new islands China will send troops to engage them in a war over those islands.

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      • Steve says:

        Okay, but take it easy with war, only war of words enough to scare the PH Duke.

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        • don says:

          he changed his mind after he saw how friendly donald trump toward xi

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        • Simon says:

          in 1978 China kicked out Vietnam from the Paracels, any action by Phillipines now China will have to kcik them out of SCS.

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          • Steve says:

            Need not worry, Philippines cannot engineer an island, they can only occupy the islands in their possession. Other islands are just rocks and not liveable. The PH Duke loves China, he will support China, till the end of his presidency there is nothing else he can do to improvise his country, except being dependent on the Motherland (his ancestry). Duterte is now highly dependent on Chinese ingenuity. The US can no longer help PH, the US too poor to build and repair its own infrastructures. Over Duterte’s presidency he will move much closer to China militarily, politically and economically. He will be buying lots of China’s military armaments and need China to build his nations economy. Democracy only brings trouble to his impoverished nation, he said that he prefers Socialism. His ‘killings of drug criminals’ clearly proves that democracy in Philippines has turned his country into a Demon-Cracy.

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          • Joseph says:

            Actually, Vietnam never occupied Paracels. South Vietnam tried to seize control of Paracels with their newly-refurbished coast guard cutters in1974. They got kicked in the butt. Those surviving cutters are in the Philippines navy now. Communist Vietnam tried again in 1988, in a North Korean-style rogue attack. Again, they got kicked in the butt.

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