Philippines ready to protest China's actions in West Philippine Sea â Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana discusses the yearend report of National Defense department during a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Dec. 20, 2018.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Philippines ready to protest China's actions in West Philippine Sea — Lorenzana
( - December 21, 2018 - 3:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government would protest any action of China that would be deemed inconsistent with the Philippines' national interest.

"If we see Chinese actions that are not consistent with our national interest, we are going to protest China," Lorenzana said in a press conference Thursday.

The Philippine Navy will also continue to maintain its presence in the West Philippine Sea amid China's aggressive actions in the disputed waters.

Lorenzana said the crew of BRP Sierra Madre, a Navy ship that ran aground on Ayungin Shoal in 1999, would stay in the area.

"We will still continue with our activities there. We will patrol regularly… [and] continue strengthening our islands. We have nine islands," Lorenzana said.

The secretary added that the Armed Forces of the Philippines would continue its resupply missions to the crew of Sierra Madre.

In the past months, there have been reports that the Chinese Coast Guard has been harassing Filipino troops conducting resupply missions to Ayungin Shoal.

The government also intends to provide housing for troops on Pag-asa Island, one of the largest features in the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.

"We have allotted funds for the shelter of our troops because right now, they only have huts there. We should give them good shelters, barracks, especially in Pag-asa," he said.

The repairs of the dilapidated runway on Pag-asa Island is expected to be completed by next year. A beaching ramp is also being constructed on the island to enable the military to bring in materials and equipment to repair the runway.

Lorenzana earlier bared that Beijing tried to block the government's plan to rehabilitate structures on Pag-asa Island.

The secretary said Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua approached him upon learning that the Philippine government is going to repair the runway.

"When he learned that we're going to repair our runway in Pag-asa, he came to me and said, 'No,'" Lorenzana said in a maritime forum last month. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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