Improvement works in Pag-asa Island will continue despite alleged Chinese surveillance, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza said on Thursday.
“They have been watching us for a long time but our projects are proceeding and will continue until completed. They are not interferingnaman (anyway),” Lorenzana said in a message to reporters.
Lorenzana was reacting to reports that Chinese vessels are constantly monitoring the ongoing construction on the island’s beaching ramp and repairs to its runway.
Earlier, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said while there are confirmed sightings of Chinese ships in the area, the number is not as high as the reported more than 600.
“Ang malinaw po diyan ay parang nagkaroon ng double counting. Kasi for one quarter – January, plus February plus March, equals one quarter ay 627. Pero actually, some of the vessels come in and go out. Kaya ang binilang po natin iyong ‘bow number,’ iyong numero doon sa bow at iyon pong — meaning, sa harapan ng barko at ang total po noon (the front of the ships and the total) is around 275 (for one quarter),” Arevalo said, adding that on the average, the figure translates to more than 80 ships per month.
“At ang atin pong obserbasyon ay nandoon sila upang magpakita ng kanilang presensiya. At the same time, meron po kasi tayong proyektong ginagawa diyan sa Pag-asa Island, naibabalita n’yo naman po iyan sa maraming pagkakataon, at ang atin pong tingin dito ay kasama iyon sa kanilang minamanmanan,” he added. PNA