MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said constructions continue on Philippine-occupied Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the West Philippine Sea.
However, AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said weather and logistics issues have temporarily halted construction to improve the facilities on the island.
"We have to improve it and we are improving it, especially so we need to improve on the airstrip," Arevalo said on ANC's Headstart.
Pag-asa island is the largest island occupied by the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea. Its 1.3-kilometer runway, built in the 1970s, needs repair and improvements.
Arevalo said the halt in construction was not due to Chinese ships monitored before in the area.
"It has nothing to do with that," he said.
Last April, the Philippines filed a protest over the reported presence of a large number of Chinese vessels around Pag-asa Island.
A Reuters report in July said the island was in the midst of major upgrades to its dilapidated facilities, especially its airstrip.
"If it rains, you need 5 days after that, provided the sun will rise intently, for us to dry that up and to allow aircraft to land," Arevalo said.
He said the construction activities on Pag-asa Island are not just meant to reiterate Philippine presence in the area but also to serve Filipinos who live or stay on the island.
"We have Filipino citizens there. That is a municipality of Kalayaan Island Group," he said.