Philippines Navy establish new barracks in South China Sea

In a thinly veiled assertion over its exclusive economic zone, the Philippines Navy has announced it will establish new barracks on an island in the South China Sea.

The facility will accommodate Navy personnel on Pag-asa Island, Palawan in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), located within the broader waters of the South China Sea.

The country’s Defence Chief Gilberto Teodoro underscored the importance of defending the WPS on 16 May 2024, citing its significance for future Fillipino generations.

Additionally, a new rural health unit with laboratories and a birthing facility will be built for the island residents.

“The WPS is the hope of the Philippines, so we cannot give up and must fight for it,” he urged.

Philippines facing off with China

China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Coast Guard are known to traverse territories across the Indo Pacific to assert their claim to areas beyond their legal domain. These Chinese services often engage other maritime forces through the use of water cannon, for example.

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Currently, China occupies seven outposts in this region including Fiery Cross, Mischief, Subi, Cuarteron, Gavin, Hughes, and Johnson reefs.

The outposts on Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi include air bases with helipads and aircraft hangers, naval port facilities, surveillance radars, air defence and anti-ship missile sites and other military infrastructure such as communications, barracks, maintenance facilities, ammunition and fuel bunkers.

Meanwhile, the Philippines occupies nine features (Commodore Reef, Second Thomas Shoal, Flat Island, Loaita Cay, Loaita Island, Nanshan Island, Northeast Cay, Thitu Island, and West York Island); Thitu Island has an airstrip and a coast guard station.

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