Duterte not dropping plan to visit Pagasa ? Lorenzana
President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Pagasa Island in South China Sea, the Department of National Defense said on Thursday.
The visit will take place after Duterte went to Casiguran Bay in Aurora province near the Philippine Rise last Tuesday. According to Malacanang, Duterte's trip to Casiguran was a "symbolic" visit to the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, to assert sovereignty over it even if it was undisputed.
“It (trip to Pagasa) was just postponed. He (Duterte) will visit (there) in the future,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said when asked if the President already dropped his plan to visit the Pagasa Island in Palawan.
China, however, is also claiming Pagasa Island.
A security official, who refused to be named, said that the President’s visit in Pagasa was yet to be set after last year’s plan was postponed.
The official underscored the importance of Duterte's visit to the government troops and the community in the island.
“Well for one, of course, it will assert our sovereign rights in Pagasa and of course it will raise the morale of our thriving community in Pagasa because the President will visit. There is no problem with that because Pagasa is under our control and it’s just that the Chief Executive is going to visit and inspect our facilities there,” the official said.
The official also expressed belief that the visit would not add tension in the South China Sea, which is wholly or partly claimed by China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.
“I don’t see any implication… because it’s like a visit to any of our provinces. It doesn’t have anything to do militarily. We are not putting missile like other parties. It is just that our President is going to visit the community, there is nothing wrong with that. He visits the constituents, although they may say something else about that, I don’t think it will escalate tension,” the official added.
China, which has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, has been criticized for installing military system in its artificial islands in the South China Sea. Robina Asido/DMS