• Pag-asa runway construction to pursue

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    The construction of a runway in Pag-asa (Thitu) Islands is expected to start next year as the government finally got a budget for it, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Friday.

    Lorenzana said part of the fund will be sourced from the budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Modernization Program.

    The project will cost P1.6-billion and contracts are now being processed.

    “It takes time for these processes to be done and probably by July next year, this will be done because the sea is already getting rough so this contractor is only waiting for fair weather to bring construction materials,” he told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

    Lorenzana said first to be constructed is a bridging ramp so the contractor’s ships can unload equipment and materials in the disputed areas.

    The Philippines takes ownership of nine areas from the Kalayaan (Spratly) Group of Islands which include Pag-asa, Kota (Loaita) Island, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Parola (Northeast Cay) Island, Patag (Flat) Island, Rizal (Commodore) Reef, Likas (West York) Island and Panata (Lankiam Cay) Island.

    In April, Lorenzana along with Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año and other key military officials went to Pag-asa Islands to show sovereignty over the disputed sea which caused alarm to Beijing.

    He added that the construction of the runway is now ongoing but the contractor is still waiting for fair weather to continue the project.

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