MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to occupy all islands of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea to maintain and strengthen the country’s jurisdiction over uninhabited Philippine islands.
“We tried to be friends with everybody but we have to maintain our jurisdiction now, at least the areas under our control. And I have ordered the Armed Forces to occupy all the so many islands. I think nine or 10. Lagyan ng structures and the Philippine flag,” the President said in a press briefing after talking to the soldiers at the Western Command (WESCOM) in Camp General Artemio Ricarte in Puerto Princesa City.
“Pati ‘yung ano, basta ‘yung bakante na ‘yung atin na, tirahan na natin, ibig sabihin. Mukhang agawan kasi ito ng isla eh. And what’s ours now, at least kunin na natin and make a strong point natin there that it is ours. We have to fortify. I must build bunker there or houses, and make provisions for habitation,” Duterte said.
The President likewise said that he plans on visiting Pag-asa Island on Independence Day to raise the Philippine flag there.
“And sa coming Independence Day natin, I might, I may go to Pag-asa island to raise the flag there,” he said.
He added that the airport project in Pag-asa will push through.
“The money is there. I don’t know how the, the Army or the engineering battalion would do it but that development there, has my full support. Gagastos ako diyan sa fortification diyan,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, Duterte said that he will also rename Benham Rise to properly identify the resource-rich area situated on the Pacific side of the country as Philippine jurisdiction.
“I will officially claim it as ours and rename it. Hindi Benham Rise. I’ll call it the Philippine Ridge,” Duterte said. Cielito Reganit/PNA-northboundasia.com