The Chinese government hits the plan of Philippine government to continue the planned maintenance and repair works of airstrip and other facilities at Pagasa Island in West Philippine Sea. Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said, during a special forum on the rule of law in est Philippine Sea, that repair and reconstruction works will not violate the 2002 Declaration of Conduct. “I think the violation of the DOC is in terms of massive reclamation and we have said that maintenance and repair [are] not covered by the portion of the DOC which says repair and maintenance [will] not raise tension,” Secretary del Rosario said.
However, China considers the plan as hypocrisy. “This is not only a series infringement of China’s sovereignty, but it also exposes the Philippines’ hypocrisy,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said as quoted by Reuters. “On the one hand the Philippines makes unreasonable criticism about China’s normal building activities on its own isles, and on the other announces it will resume repairs on an airport, runway and other illegal constructions on China’s Spratly Islands, which it illegally occupies.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Department of National Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin said “repair and maintenance, that’s okay with us. But before we bring in construction materials there, we need to put up a pier to allow the entry of ships. So that will totally change the landscape. That’s against the DOC.”
“If it will be by aircraft, it will be very very expensive and very impractical. So you have to bring in the boat but the boat cannot come in because there is no pier,” Defense chief Gazmin added.
Repair and reconstruction of military facilities in Pagasa Island involves two stages. The first stage will include dredging activities to enable ships from approaching the island. Second stage is the actual repair of the air strip.