Deferring improvement of military facilities in Pagasa meant to maintain moral high ground

The order from the President not to desert the status quo in West Philippine Sea “was issued sometime in the middle of 2014, and we need to ensure that we maintain our moral high ground because we filed a case before the arbitral tribunal as regards the West Philippine Sea,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview with dzRB.

“We don’t want to deviate from the process that we chose to ease the tensions and avoid any incident that may be construed as ramping up tension or trying to provoke any of – the claimant countries that are involved. So at least, for this time, we are sticking to that tack,” she added.

“In our view, it will not weaken our position.”

Defense Secretary Gazmin told a Senate Committee last Friday, October 3 that they got instruction from President Aquino not to desert the status quo. “We have funds for the improvement but this is now being held in abeyance because of the case we have filed.”

The instruction deferred the improvement of airstrip and military facilities in Pagasa Island.

Philippines has been calling for moratorium in West Philippine Sea amid China’s aggressive reclamation in the region. The government also initiated Triple Action Plan to solve maritime spat in South China Sea. The plan was widely accepted by the international community except China.

Basic services and delivery of goods to Pagasa Island is not affected by the President’s directive not to change the status quo.