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|Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo Hanoitimes|
She made the statement in response to media questions about Vietnam’s stance on the Philippines’ preparations for the repair and upgrade of runway and infrastructure on Thi Tu (Thitu) Island in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.
Thitu Island is known as Pag-asa in the Philippines. It is simultaneously claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, and China.
“Vietnam has sufficient legal basis and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over Truong Sa in accordance with international law. Every act violating Vietnam’s sovereignty and related rights on Truong Sa is illegal and valueless,” said Hang, while calling for related parties to respect Vietnam’s rights and international laws, as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the 1982 UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“It is important that other countries should not further complicate the situation but contribute substantially to maintain peace, stability on the East Sea [known as the South China Sea] and create the right environment for the negotiation of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea (COC),” she suggested.
|A naval soldier stands guard at a sovereignty marker on Truong Sa Lon island. Photo VNA|
Maintaining peace, stability, order, security, and safety and freedom of navigation and overflight, abiding by law, and respecting the sovereignty and sovereign and jurisdictional rights of countries in the East Sea is the goal, interest, responsibility and common aspiration of all countries and the international community, she said, adding that Vietnam wishes that parties would strive to make responsible contributions to the issue, Vietnam New Agency reported.
Earlier The Philippines Inquirer reported that work may soon officially start for the repair and upgrade of the decrepit runway on Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the West Philippine Sea.
According to a Philippine government source, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is set to sign the contract and notice to proceed for the project, which had been long planned even by previous administrations.
A notice of award was issued by the Department of National Defense to the company Mamsar Construction last April 27, the official said.
Mamsar also built the P450 million sheltered port on Pag-asa Island, which was inaugurated in 2020.
In 2020, the government launched a beaching ramp and sheltered port on the island, the biggest infrastructure upgrades since the Philippines occupied it in the 1970s.
The P268-million beaching ramp, built by Luzviminda Engineering Construction, was envisioned to allow the smooth transport of heavy construction materials to jumpstart the repair of the island’s runway and construction of other facilities.
Pag-asa, internationally known as Thitu, is the only Philippine-controlled outpost in the Municipality of Kalayaan that has civilian inhabitants. Eight other islands and reefs around the Spratly Islands occupied by the Philippines are guarded by the Philippine military.
The basing support project, which will be overseen by the Philippine Air Force, has an estimated cost of P1.3 billion. It would include the restoration and concreting of the runway and construction of other facilities.
Only 850 kilometers of the 1.3 km unpaved runway, dotted with tufts of green grass, is currently usable, posing a challenge to pilots in landing big military planes./.
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