By Francis Wakefield
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday said that the military will continue to patrol Ayungin Reef as part of efforts to protect it from incursions.
In a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Lorenzana said that Filipino troops will sustain its patrol in the area.
Nagpa-patrolya tayo [We patrol] regularly, so we will continue on strengthening our islands,” Lorenzana said.
“Meron tayong siyam na islands [We have nine islands]. The people at the Sierra Madre (Landing Ship Tank) will still be there, continue pa rin ‘yung ating replacement saka [also] replacement ng tao [of people] regularly plus ‘yung re-supply nila [re-supplying them] that will continue,” Lorenzana added.
Ayungin forms part of the country’s group of islands in the hotly-contested Spratlys region being claimed by five other countries, including China.
Ayungin is located near the Chinese – occupied Mischief (Panganiban) Reef which now serves as China’s forward base for its warships.
Both reefs are located near Palawan.
Lorenzana, in the same press briefing, said that there are plans to improve the living conditions of soldiers posted in Pag-Asa island, Palawan.
He also said that the island’s beaching ramp is 42 percent finished.
“We just continue what we are doing now, and that is to fortify or improve the living condition, the quarters of our troops. Spread sila lahat eh, meron tayong tropa sa lahat ng ating islands na occupied natin [They are spread. We have troops stationed in islands that we occupy],” he added
The defense chief also said that the government is looking at the possibility of reviewing the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States.
Lorenzana said they are studying how to get a better deal for the country, under the MDT, especially in protecting the country’s territory.