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).
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.