National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said the lighthouses could provide navigational safety for all international vessels transiting the West Philippine Sea.
AP, File
Philippines to build 5 lighthouses in Spratly Islands
( - May 30, 2018 - 1:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government is building five lighthouses in South China Sea features occupied by the Philippines to ensure the safety of transiting ships and to improve the living conditions of Filipinos in the area, an official said Wednesday.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said lighthouses are being constructed in Pag-asa, Parola, Likas, Patag and Kota, islets that are part of the Spratly Islands.  

"We are upgrading facilities for the comfort of our people," Esperon said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum in Manila.

"Lighthouses are now being constructed features held by the Philippines to ensure safety of navigation, along our responsibility under the UNCLOS (United Nations 
Convention on the Law of the Sea) to provide navigational safety for all international vessels transiting the West Philippine Sea," he added. 

Esperon said the construction of lighthouses, which costs about P10 million, is part of the government's effort to upgrade Philippine-claimed features in the West Philippine Sea. The government is also upgrading port and airstrip facilities in Pag-asa island, the largest of the nine features controlled by the Philippines in the Spratly Islands. 

"This is necessary for trade, the preservation of the livelihood of the fisherfolk, and the timely delivery of basic necessities of the community in the municipality 
of Pag-asa," the national security adviser said. 

"It is but natural (to carry out upgrades) because we have a fishing community there," he added. 

Esperon said the upgrade and repair of the runway on Pag-asa, which China calls Thitu island, would allow the government to send supplies to troops stationed in the area.

China claims historic rights over about 90 percent of the South China Sea including Spratly Islands while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

While China has been aggressively building new structures, including military facilities, in disputed areas, planned improvements in Philippine-held features were delayed to avoid tensions. 

Earlier this month, think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported that the Philippines has started the repairs on Pag-asa island, which is inhabited by about 100 Filipinos. Upgrades were also observed on Lawak Island, Panata Island and Rizal Reef. — Alexis Romero

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 26, 2018 - 10:54am

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

November 26, 2018 - 10:54am

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is addressing the Association of Congressional Chiefs of Staff at the House of Representatives to talk about issues related to the South China Sea. He has been making rounds in the forum circuit across the country to talk about the legal repercussions of China's overreaching claims in the maritime region.

Carpio, who is in the running for the chief justice post, argues that China committed its last territorial act against the Philippines in seizing Sandy Cay in the West Philippine Sea.

China is also expanding its legally invalid nine-dash line claim, possibly to encompass Benham Rise, an expansive underwater plateau east of the Philippines' landmass. (Stock photo)

November 20, 2018 - 8:24am

The latest Social Weather Stations poll reveals that 84 percent of adult Filipinos reject the government’s policy of doing nothing about China's intrusion in the West Philippine Sea. This is up by 3 points from 81 percent in June 2018

The survey conducted from Sept. 15-23, 2018 also shows that 87 percent of Filipinos believe it is important that the Philippines regains control of the islands occupied by China in the West Philippine Sea. 

The SWS poll also finds that Filipinos' net trust is at "very good" for the United States, "moderate" for Japan, Malaysia and Israel, and "poor" for China as 65 percent of Filipinos are aware of Beijing's abuses of Filipino fishermen.

The poll used face-to-face interviews of 1,500 adults nationwide: 600 in Balance Luzon and 300 each in Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.

November 14, 2018 - 1:59pm

President Rodrigo Duterte says in a statement that ASEAN and China are committed to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).

"ASEAN and China have seen steady progress in the initial phase of the COC negotiations since the announcement of a Single Draft COC Negotiating Text, and looked forward to the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text by 2019," the statement says.

"ASEAN and China will continue to maintain a conducive environment for future rounds of negotiations of the COC. As co-chair of the COC negotiations, the Philippines will continue to work closely together with the ASEAN Member States and China for the early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC."


June 12, 2018 - 10:14am

China Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua says President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed concern on reported Chinese seizures of fish caught by Filipino fishermen in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

Zhao adds that Chinese Coast Guard personnel involved in taking of the catch of Filipino fishermen will be punished. — The STAR/Alexis Romero

May 30, 2018 - 10:00am

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Washington will continue with its freedom of navigation operations amid China's increasing militarization in the South China Sea. 

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