Lorenzana dismisses think-tank tweet

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    DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday chided a Washington-based think tank for asking why continued Chinese presence at the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea is not reported by media.

    Lorenzana did not dispute China’s presence at Pag-asa island, internationally known as Thitu island, which serves as the seat of government of Kalayaan town in Palawan.

    Pag-asa island is among nine islands and islets occupied by Filipino troops in the West Philippine Sea. It also being claimed in part or in whole by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan which are also claiming parts of the South China Sea. The West Philippine Sea refers to Philippine-claimed area in the South China Sea.

    Gregory Poling of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said on Twitter Wednesday: “Just a reminder. China has maintained a constant maritime militia and CCG (China Coast Guard) deployment around Thitu island for 424 days and counting. Somehow this isn’t on the front pages of the Manila papers.”

    Sought for a comment on Poling’s remarks, Lorenzana said: “Let him tweet. Why is he so interested in this? What is it to him? And on the basis of his tweet, we are expected to jump and react? No way, Sir.”

    “We will not allow anybody specially outsiders to dictate how we manage our affairs,” Lorenzana said.

    China has turned aggressive in its claims in the South China Sea in the past years. It has subjected to land reclamation several reefs which are now equipped with modern weapon systems.

    Pressed if China maintains presence at Pag-asa island, Lorenzana said, “There is presence there intermittently but varying in numbers.”