Duterte orders occupation and construction on vacant islands belonging to PH. Construct structures to assert ownership.

islands should be occupied to show ownership.

PICS: CNN and Inquirer.net

PICS: CNN and Inquirer.net

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The age old dispute about the territorial waters in the South China Seas is still lingering and creating tensions. In spite of a ruling by the International Tribunal for the laws of the Seas (ITLOS) not much has changed.
President Duterte employed a soft line with respect to the implementation of the award by the tribunal. A veritable game of cat and mouse continues unabated in the high seas.
Taking the lead to avoid a confrontation, President Duterte tried the diplomatic option but met with surprising responses. The Chinese kept issuing statements that were friendly at times but on-ground actions were contrary to the utterances.
Moreover, the situation was stagnant just like the pre-judgment days. Therefore, with an intention to move ahead, he ordered his troops to implement the tribunal’s award by occupying the territorial waters that were under dispute.

The troops were required to dig in and fortify the islands that they so occupied. In addition, he declared that he would visit Pagasa Island (Thitu Island) personally and hoist the Filipino flag. Thus, he will celebrate the Independence Day of the Philippines by claiming what is rightly theirs.

Whether this provokes regional protests or claims is a matter of speculation since China’s reaction is unpredictable.

Implementation of award

The President was expressing his innermost feelings about the situation in the resources rich South China Sea. It is also called the West Philippine sea and there are quite a few disputes pending here. China is, more often than not, one of claimants in most of the disputes.

Mr. Duterte was addressing reporters at Puerto Princessa City, Palawan province, near the disputed Spratly archipelago during a visit on Thursday. He was speaking to reporters at the headquarters of the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He was amazed that everyone was trying to grab any one the islands that appeared vacant.

Hence, it looked foolish to leave our own islands vacant for someone to grab and occupy, he said. China is involved in cooking up claims and counterclaims some of which have no basis in historical facts. It has running dispuites with:
• Brunei,
• Vietnam,
• Malaysia,
• Taiwan and
• The Philippines.
Apart from disputing the sovereignty of other claimants, China is raising reefs for military purpose. It fortifies sandy reefs with concrete and strengthens them to allow military planes and hardware to transport and store.

However, the President has now shifted his stand and allows inhabitation of the islands that belong to it. We have to wait and see as to how China will react in light of the latest move by the Philippines.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are gearing up to construct structures on its islands that are lying vacant.

However, he did not wish to leave his policy of befriending all nations.

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Umrao Singh
Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson
Friday, April 07, 2017