Esperon: More troops deployed in Spratlys, PH borders
More troops have been deployed by the military around the country’s borders including its outposts in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) in the past year in order to bolster its claims.
“To maintain effective occupation over Philippine islands and features, our Armed Forces deployed more personnel to these areas,” said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. in a forum Wednesday to highlight the efforts and accomplishments of the security cluster for 2017.
The official showed the list of the following islands and features:
West Philippine Sea
- Rizal (Commodore)
- Patag (Flat)
- Panata (Loaita Cay)
- Kota (Loaita Island)
- Lawak (Nanshan)
- Likas (West York)
- Parola (Northeast Cay)
- Ayungin (Second Thomas)
- Pagasa (Thitu)
Wednesday’s forum at the Philippine International Convention Center was part of a series called “Tatak ng Pagbabago: Tatak ng Pag-unlad” ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 23.
Esperon said to ensure maritime domain awareness, the AFP conducted naval surface patrol covering more than 180,000 nautical miles of the country’s maritime domain and 2,400 flying hours of maritime air patrol.
There were also 66,000 foreign and domestic vessels monitored by littoral monitoring stations.
The security official said that they have started the construction of the beaching ramp and the repair of the runway in Pagasa Island in the Spratlys.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported last May, backed with satellite images, that the Philippines has finally started long overdue repairs for the runway on Pagasa Island.
It was in April 2017 that the Philippine government revealed its plans to begin the long-planned repair of the runway and the construction of a beach ramp in Pagasa, the biggest of the nine Philippine-occupied islands and reefs in the Spratlys.
The island features an eroded 1.3 kilometer coral airstrip built in the 1970s. The airstrip also becomes too soft to land on whenever it rains and pilots have to wait a few days before they could use it again.
Part of the National Security Policy for 2017 to 2022 says the West Philippine Sea dispute remains to be “the foremost security challenge” to the Philippines’ sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“The country needs to address the disputes concerning maritime boundaries as they affect a complex range of national security concerns as well as threaten regional peace and stability,” the document read. /je
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