China not interfering with Pag-asa rehab: DND

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana dismissed reports claiming that rehabilitation works at the Pag-asa Island were delayed by the constant presence of Chinese ships in the area.

“Although there are always Chinese ships in the vicinity of Pag-asa (remember Subi Reef is within seeing distance away by the naked eye) they have never in any way interfered with the rehab of the island,” Lorenzana said in a message to reporters late Monday.

Lorenzana said the delay was caused by a problem encountered during the initial stage of the rehabilitation as contractors found out that seabed, where the beaching ramp was to constructed, was found to be hard, prompting the contractor to bring in appropriate drilling equipment.

“When work finally started it was slow because of this problem. Second, all equipment and materials are shipped from Puerto Princesa (Palawan) The seas in the (Spratlys) are usually rough that the contractor’s barges can only transport materials within a small window of time from January to April (and) May,” he added.

Rehabilitation works at the island started sometime in 2018.

After those months, Lorenzana said everything is dependent on the weather and added that repairs could be made in the Pag-asa runway until the beaching ramp is built.

The beaching ramp is essential for the rehabilitation of the island as it will be used to bring in the heavy equipment, cement, steel bars, sand, and gravel.

Without it, Lorenzana said the rehabilitation of Pag-asa cannot proceed.

Meanwhile, he added that the fishermen’s shelter, which is a project of the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is more than halfway done based on the latest aerial photos. PNA.GOV.PH