Pagasa Island beaching ramp in Spratlys 40% complete — Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday that the beaching ramp at Pagasa Island (Thitu), the biggest Philippine-claimed outpost in the Spratly Islands, is 40 percent complete.
The beaching ramp was originally targeted to be finished by yearend so the repair of Rancudo Airfield will begin in 2019.
“Forty percent na…Kung December ‘yan, depende sa panahon,” Lorenzana told reporters on the sidelines of the Department of National Defense 79th founding anniversary at Camp Aguinaldo.
In his speech at the event, he cited the progress on Pagasa in terms of dredging works, beaching ramp and mooring bollard construction.
The US think-tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative released satellite images in May showing the long overdue repair on Pagasa and a few other Philippine-claimed features.
The Philippine government announced in April last year that it will start the construction of a beaching ramp on Pagasa Island to allow ships to bring construction materials for the repair of the 1.3 kilometer-unpaved airstrip that was first built in the 1970s.
Repairs on the island were put on hold when the Philippines filed a maritime case against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
The Philippines won the ruling in 2016, but it was never acknowledged by China. President Rodrigo Duterte also set aside the verdict in exchange of economic investments from the Asian superpower.
Pagasa, the biggest of the nine Philippine-occupied islands in the Spratlys, is inhabited by about a hundred civilians and a small batch of troops.
Lorenzana says the military has deployed 288 personnel in various Philippine outposts in the Spratly Islands to establish maritime presence and maintain effective occupation. /je
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