AFP vows to protect PH claims in Spratlys amid China buildup
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vowed Monday to protect the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea amid China’s massive buildup in the disputed waters.
“Rest assured that the AFP is doing its best that our territory, [what is] ours [is] being protected,” AFP chief of staff Gen. Carlito Galvez told reporters in a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo.
Major developments in the Spratly Islands have been reported in recent weeks, backed by satellite and aerial surveillance photos.
The most troubling developments that raised concerns among other nations were the reported deployments of missiles and jamming equipment by China in some of its artificial bases.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that the government does not have the equipment to verify the images.
But Galvez said they are already coordinating with allies and counterparts to verify the information.
The AFP chief refused to go into details on up to what extent they would do to protect the country’s claims in the Spratlys, saying that these are operational matters.
“As much as possible, I don’t want to talk about this,” he said.
The Philippines occupies nine features in the Spratly Islands, manned by the marines and navy: Pagasa Island (Thitu), Ayungin (Second Thomas Shoal), Lawak Island (Nanshan), Parola Island (Northeast Cay), Patag Island (Flat), Kota Island (Loaita), Rizal Reef (Commodore), Likas Island (West York), and Panata Island (Lankiam Cay). /jpv/ac
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