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Pag-asa, Kalayaan islands ours; all PH activities there legal – DFA

/ 02:45 PM May 02, 2017
This July 20, 2011 file aerial photo, taken through the window of a closed aircraft, shows Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines.  Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday, April 6, 2017, that structures should be built on all of the nine to 10 islands, reefs and shoals held by the Philippines in the Spratly Islands.  Duterte said he may visit one of the islands, Pag-asa, to plant a Philippine flag on Independence Day. He said money has been budgeted to repair the runway on Pag-asa, home to a small fishing community and Filipino troops.   (AP Photo/Rolex Dela Pena, Pool, File)

Pag-Asa Island (AP Photo/Rolex Dela Pena, Pool, File)

MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has maintained that Pag-asa Island and the Kalayaan Island Group are part of Philippine territory and any activity in them are perfectly legal.

The pronouncement on Tuesday was in response to Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua who claimed that the occupation of and any activity on the islands by the Philippines were illegal.

Foreign affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said the “Pag-asa Island and the larger Kalayaan Island Group are a municipality of Palawan.”

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Bolivar further said, “Any visit of activity we undertake there are part and parcel of our Constitutional mandate to ensure the safety, well-being, and livelihood of our citizens living in this municipality.”

Residents in the area are mostly Filipinos, according to Bolivar.

On Monday, Zhao was asked by reporters on the April 21 incident where a C-130 aircraft bearing Philippine secretary of defense Delfin Lorenzana and the top military brass was reportedly harassed by the Chinese military as the plane headed for Pag-asa Island.

The Chinese envoy to the Philippines said that it was common practice to warn aircraft that “intrude” in their territory.

He was further quoted as saying that the Philippine occupation of Pag-asa Island as well as the construction of structures on the island were illegal, although he assured Filipinos that China — as a policy — would negotiate to resolve the matter peacefully

President Duterte previously directed the defense secretary to repair and upgrade existing facilities and structures on Pag-asa Island as he ordered the military to occupy Philippine-inhabited islands and reefs on the West Philippine Sea to assert the country’s sovereignty over them.  SFM

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TAGS: China, Chinese Embassy in Manila, Delfin Lorenzana, Department of Defense, Department of Foreign Affairs, Diplomacy, Foreign affairs, geopolitics, International relations, Kalayaan Island Group, Pag-asa Island, Philippine president, Philippines, Robespierre Bolivar, Rodrigo Duterte, South China Sea, Spratly Islands, territorial disputes, Territories, West Philippine Sea, Zhao Jianhua
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