Lorenzana brushes off Chinese radioed challenge on approach to Pagasa Island

April 21, 2017 - 11:50 PM
Defense Sec Delfin Lorenza on Pagasa Islang, Spratlys
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana speaks before troops and residents at Pagasa Island in the Spratly Archipelagog.

Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana on Friday flew to Pagasa Island, also known as Thitu Island, off Palawan Province about halfway to the coast of Vietnam in the Spratly Archipelago on the West Philippine Sea.

As they approached, Secretary Lorenzana’s party intercepted Chinese radio transmissions, four times, forewarning them about transgressing Chinese territory.

However, this did nothing to deter Lorenzana from proceeding to Pagasa, which is populated by about 300 residents. There he even disclosed plans to fund and beef up facilities as well as put up new structures, not just on Pagasa but to include other nearby isles that have Filipino presence.

After about four decades, the runway of what passes as an airfield could use some decent sprucing up, and many of the houses there also could be built more sturdily.

There is only one light truck that provides motorized mobility around, and not a proper boat landing dock for the fishermen.

Lorenzana brushed aside the “encounter” with the Chinese, indicating that it was customary – protocol – and not uncommon for such challenges to take place in such a situation, where the Chinese side has staked their presence at nearby Subi Reef and built substantial structures.

“We responded likewise that we we’re flying over what we consider as Philippine Territory,” Lorenzana said, adding that there is nothing foreseeable to think that this would escalate into an untoward incident.

A resident told News5 that, in the event of heightened tension with the Chinese side, he would feel some serious concern for his family arising from the disparity.

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