Duterte wants Batanes runways extended for national security
President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing on improving the airport and seaport in Batanes province for national security reason.
Duterte on Sunday visited the quake?hit province to ensure that the needs of the affected residents are being provided.
During a disaster briefing with local and national officials, Duterte said he noticed two big islands while he was conducting an aerial inspection.
“You know I’ve been flying to the area where there was this epicenter (Itbayat)… but there are two islands there that are big ones. I asked the mayor, is it ours?” he said.
Duterte told Governor Marilou Cayco, who accompanied him during the aerial inspection, to place any symbolic thing in the islands amid the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
He expressed interest in improving the runways after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told him the need for the extension of the airport in Batanes not only for disaster response but also for national security.
“I’m interested in project of extending both the runways for national security reason. It could be a very crucial factor in the days to come,” Duterte said.
“Not in our generation but- it is good to be prepared so that we have to defend those islands there. You have to have a launching deck somewhere here,” he added.
He said the local government can ask the Philippine Coast Guard to patrol in the area from time to time.
“We just got --- we acquired some sort of a fast boat. You might want to ask the Coast Guard to --- go here… to patrol the island from time to time. Not everyday but just to assure that those islands will remain ours,” he said.
Duterte said the government should ensure that no one could take any island owned by the Philippines.
“We are supposed to preserve the Republic of the Philippines and whatever is ours it should be the --- it should be very clear to everybody that it is ours,” he said.
The Philippines is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea. Ella Dionisio/DMS