Malacañang on Friday stated Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s planning to trip at Pag-asa Island on Independence Day will be illustrative regarding his administration’s push for any independent foreign policy.
“It will be significant that it will be the first time a President visits and commemorates Independence Day in [the] municipality. It will also be symbolic of our independent foreign policy,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella stated in a statement delivered to reporters.
“If he does push through, he will be accompanied by the governor, the three Palawan congressmen and the leaders of the municipality of Kalayaan. The government maintains its commitment for the development of these islands for the benefit of our citizens thereat,” Abella included.
Pag-asa is among the 9 islands within the disputed Spratlys the fact that Philippines occupies. The Philippines, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan claim either the whole or some areas of the South China Sea. The Philippines refers part of the South China Sea as West Philippine Sea.
On Thursday, Duterte declared that he’s planning to visit Pag-asa Island and lift the Philippine flag there—a big surprise move between warming relations with China despite disputes. Duterte is even scheduled to return to China in May to the One Belt, One Road forum.
“The President recently announced plans to improve, and implement the Pag-asa Development plan which includes 9 areas. This is part of his mandate to serve the best interests of the nation,” Abella claimed.
Moreover on Thursday, Duterte explained that he ordered the Armed Forces in order to “occupy” the Philippine islands in South China Sea. However military officials, within a Reuters report, responded to that what Pres. Duterte desired is to build structures there for the reason that 9 areas have already been occupied.