Construction of Pag-asa Island’s Beaching Ramp Now 60% Complete – DND

7:28:00 PM
The construction of a beaching ramp on Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, which forms part of the disputed Spratlys (Kalayaan) Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea, is now 60-percent complete, according to the Department of National Defense (DND).

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the construction of the beaching ramp, which was originally targeted to be completed by the end of 2018, was hampered by delays due to bad weather.

He said it is now scheduled to be finished by the end of 2019.

“The [construction] of the beaching ramp has been intermittent because of bad weather and the contractor cannot bring in the construction materials,” Lorenzana said.

“But it is now 60-percent finished and we expect the beaching ramp to be finished by the end of this year,” he added.

The completion of the beaching ramp will pave the way for the repair of a runway on Pag-asa Island in a bid for Philippine forces to strengthen their presence in the area that they have occupied since 1971.

The Philippines has established a lone municipality on Pag-asa Island, the 5th-class Kalayaan town, which is part of Palawan. A community of fishermen and military and police forces are living in the area.

The military aims to improve the living condition of the community and the Philippine forces on Pag-asa Island with the planned improvements in its infrastructure.

However, since the Defense Department announced that there would be construction and repair efforts on Pag-asa Island in 2017, there had been an increase in the number of Chinese vessels in the area, as reported by United States-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).

The AMTI further revealed that there had been efforts from China to disrupt the construction and repair on Pag-asa Island by sending operating vessels around the area.

Aside from China, other countries such as Taiwan and Vietnam claim Pag-asa as part of their territory.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China’s claim to sovereign rights over most of the South China Sea, including parts of the Philippines’ 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone which the previous Aquino administration named the West Philippine Sea.

A aerial photo of the Philippine-claimed Pag-asa Island, also known as Thitu Island

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