The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte says China assured him no construction on sandbar off Pagasa Island

August 21, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday night China made an assurance they would not construct anything on a sandbar, which is part of the Pagasa Island occupied by the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea.

"China assured me that they will not build anything there," Duterte told reporters referring to the Sandy Cay, which is some 4.6 kilometers from Filipino inhabited Pagasa Island in Kalayaan town, Palawan province.

He said the Chinese ships spotted in the area were just conducting a patrol.

Contrary to what was said by Supreme Court Association Justice Antonio Carpio that China has invaded Sandy Cay, Duterte said, "They are not invading. What (Carpio) said was not true. They are there but they are not claiming anything."

Carpio has urged the government not to allow China to occupy the sandbar near Pagasa Island amid the presence of several Chinese coast guard and navy ships in the area.

Duterte said that it was the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Ambassador to Manila who assured him that they would not construct anything on the sandbar, which became visible all the time since materials from nearby Chinese reclaimed reef were swept by the current there.

He said the assurance was made long ago even before the reported sightings of Chinese vessels off Pagasa were reported on the media.

China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, while the Philippines has been claiming only those within its 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone.

Other claimants in the disputed waters are Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. Celerina Monte/DMS