Philippines’ reclamation in WPS doable but needs serious studies, says AFP
MANILA, Philippines — The creation and reclamation of artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) so that more command posts can be installed to safeguard the country’s territories are doable, but these projects need further studies from experts.
This is the view of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) AFP Western Command spokesperson Commander Ariel Coloma expressed in an interview on Monday over Radyo 360.
He was responding to a question of whether or not the Philippines can conduct such undertakings, similar to China’s operations.
The topic was about a recent incident wherein coral reefs from Rozul (Iroquois) Reef were discovered “wiped out.”
This revelation came through an underwater inspection after local authorities drove away 25 Chinese maritime militia from the area.
“Iyan pong bagay na yan [reclamation and creation of islands], hindi ko po masyadong maidi-discuss dito sa ating programa. Iyan po ay kasalukuyan ding pinagpaplanuhan ng ating mga liderato sa taas, tsaka ng ating National Task Force WPS,” Coloma said.
(I cannot discuss those things completely in your program. The reclamation and creation of artificial islands are currently being planned by our leaders, as well as our National Task Force West Philippine Sea.)
He also pointed out that while artificial islands can strengthen the country’s territorial defense, they should not affect the water biodiversity and fishermen’s source of income in any harmful way.
“Kailangan ng masusing pagpaplano at pag-assess para hindi rin po tayo magkaroon ng problema later on sa ating mga marine resources sa area na ‘yan,” Coloma emphasized.
(We need thorough planning and assessment so that we would not have problems later on with our marine resources in that area.)
Coloma added while there is no concrete information yet about local reclamation projects in WPS, AFP will fully support the initiative if it ever pushes through.
The official also emphasized that local authorities lack sufficient resources to protect the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“As much as we wanted na we will be there sa ating napakalaking teritoryo sa ating EEZ diyan sa ating WPS, and that we will be there 24/7 in all these territories and all these features, ay below din po tayo sa ating resources,” he said.
(As much as we want to be there in our huge territory in our EEZ in our West Philippine Sea, and we will be there 24/7 in all these territories and all these features, we are also below in our resources.)
He then asked the government for more patrol boats, particularly within Palawan, to solidify the country’s protection against future attacks in WPS.