Armed Forces of the Philippines will install radars and Airbase in the Spratly Islands, Province of the Philippines

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said , they  will install radar equipments on nine islands in the disputed Spratlys of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to monitor intrusions even as the Coast Guard said it deployed three patrol vessels to secure a government oil survey ship reportedly harassed by two Chinese boats in the South China Sea.

“With the available resources that we have right now, all we can do is to react,” Western Command chief Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban said in an interview in Camp Aguinaldo.

“But we will be installing radars in all our controlled islands in the Philippine Waters for fast monitoring.”

On March 2, two Chinese Navy patrol vessels harassed an Energy Department survey ship, the m/v Veritas Voyager, in the Reed Bank, but left after the Navy and Air Force sent aircraft to the area.

Seismic testing for gas by an Anglo-Filipino consortium had been halted after an incident in which Manila says two Chinese boats threatened to ram a survey ship, the government said.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the seismic tests would resume after the Philippines and China held talks to resolve the dispute. Manila would send maritime affairs experts to Beijing later this week for negotiations.

“They had to pack up and reconstitute everything,” Almendras told reporters, saying it would take a few days to restart the tests. “We have to wait, but we hope to resume.”

The Philippines has already filed a diplomatic protest with the Chinese government over the incident, but Beijing has yet to respond to it.

Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario said the Energy Department’s research vessel was well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Over the weekend, Coast Guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said two vessels with divers and medical teams on board and a surveillance vessel were sent to patrol the waters off the southwestern province of Palawan and help the government-contracted ship doing a seismic survey of the area.

Sabban suggested that the government could renovate an airstrip on Pagasa Island and turn it into an airbase so it could respond faster to such incidents.

“We have an airstrip on Pagasa Island already, and all we have to do is to make an airbase to augment our maritime patrols, especially in the vicinity of our claimed islands,” Sabban said.

“We’re the first one to build an airstrip, but we’ve already been surpassed by the kind of airstrips that Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia have put up in the Spratlys.”

US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. urged the Spartlys claimants, especially China, to act with restraint.

“We urge restraint on all sides,” he said.

“We urge that the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea issue be resolved in the negotiating table. We believe that the ASEAN (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei) states and China with the presence of the USA should sit down according to the 2002 Code of Conduct.

 

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