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Lorenzana says PH maintains normal troop presence on Pag-asa

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday that the Armed Forces of the Philippines will maintain its normal presence on Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea despite the statement made by President  Duterte to China to lay off the island.

Lorenzana said there is no plan to increase the number of troops stationed on Pag-asa Island and the eight features that the country own amid the latest statement coming from the  Chief Executive.

“There is no such plan. We will maintain our normal presence in Pag-asa and the other eight features that we own,” Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana did not disclose how many troops are presently stationed on Pag-asa Island given the sensitivity of the matter.

He, however, assured that all islands and features which the country owns are guarded by troops.

“It’s confidential! Basta lahat ng islands belonging to us we have troops,” Lorenzana said.

Duterte in a previous speech ruled out war with China over Pag-asa Island but is ready to defend Filipinos on the island if they are harmed.

“Pag-asa Island belongs to us. Is that yung base natin? China would nev­er do that, I assure you unless China wants a war with us. Hindi ako papayag kung pati yung Pag-asa i-occupy nila? No, of course not,” he said dur­ing  the national assembly of prosecu­tors in Palawan.

The President said he was not warn­ing China but was giving the Asian giant friendly advice. (Francis Wakefield)