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DND directs an increase in AFP presence in WPS

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Following Chinese activity observed close to Pag-asa Island, the Department of National Defense (DND) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to increase its presence in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The WPS features pose a threat to Pag-asa Island, which is a part of the country’s territory, according to a statement released by the DND on Thursday.

The security of Pag-asa Island, which is a portion of Philippine sovereign territory, is threatened by any invasion in the WPS or reclamation on the features inside, it was added.

Additionally, the DND claimed that such conduct jeopardizes marine ecology and threatens regional stability.

According to the statement, “We firmly urge China to respect the current rules-based international order and desist from measures that may increase tensions in the WPS and the greater South China Sea.”

Observed Chinese militia warships

Wescom, on the other hand, said in a second statement on Thursday that it had noticed China militia vessels remaining present all the while in three different WPS areas during routine naval and aviation patrols.

They were found, specifically, in Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef), Panata Island (Lankiam Cay), and Pag-asa Cay 1 (Sandy Cay).

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTFWPS) receives reports on all operations and developments in those areas for an appropriate reaction.

In order to safeguard the territory and sovereign rights of our country, it was further stated that Wescon would keep up its marine patrols and maintain its presence in the WPS.

DND officer-in-charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. earlier expressed concern over the alleged swarm of Chinese ships off Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in the WPS, but he insisted that they will not cede any of their country’s territory and will continue with their routine maritime and air patrols.

In a statement on December 14, he stated, “The DND regards with considerable worry the reported swarming of Chinese warships in Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in the WPS.”

Another incident that happened on November 20 apparently involved the China Coast Guard interfering with Western Command personnel’s attempts to recover an unidentified floating object seen close to Pag-asa Island.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has refuted claims that Beijing is engaging in further reclamation work on a few uninhabited Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

According to unidentified Western sources quoted by Bloomberg on Tuesday, Beijing has begun constructing a number of land features in the uninhabited northern region of the Spratly Islands.

Speaking at a press conference on December 21, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning called the claim “absolutely incorrect” and emphasized that Beijing consistently adheres to the South China Sea Declaration of Conduct (DOC).

“The Bloomberg article is entirely false.

China always carefully abides by the solemn agreement established by China and ASEAN nations in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to refrain from acting on the currently uninhabited islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands, Mao added, referring to the Spratlys.

The two sides will continue to appropriately handle maritime issues through friendly dialogue, she added, noting that the development of China-Philippines relations presently has strong momentum.

In accordance with the terms of the 2002 Declaration of Principles (DOC), China and the ten ASEAN members committed to exercising “self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, including, among others, refraining from action to inhabit on the currently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features.”

Cebuano Cebuano English English Filipino Filipino

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