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