Philippines to build pier in disputed Spratlys

March 30, 2012
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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will "exercise territorial sovereignty" and build a pier in the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea, officials said Friday (March 30th).

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    The department of foreign affairs said it would build the pier on the largest of the five Philippine-occupied islands, Thitu, which it calls Pag-asa, AFP reported.

    "What is ours is ours. Pag-asa Island is ours. ... The construction of a pier on Pag-asa Island is a clear exercise of Philippine sovereignty," the department said in a statement.

    The 37-hectare island hosts about 60 Filipino civilians as well as troops whose food and other needs have to be shipped or flown in. Construction of a pier will allow equipment and materials to be rolled off ships, a local official said.

    "Once we have the pier, we can unload equipment for the improvement of the airstrip and the construction of other facilities and even tourists," said Eugene Bito-onon, the Filipino mayor of the five Philippine-controlled islands.

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