By Patricia Lourdes Viray
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines stressed its claim over Pag-asa Island in response to the remarks of Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua that occupation of the island was illegal.
Earlier this week, the Chinese envoy said that the plan of the Philippines to improve its facilities in the island was also illegal.
"Pag-asa Island and the larger Kalayaan Island Group are a municipality of Palawan," Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said in a statement on Tuesday.
Filipinos occupied the island as early as the late 1960s and built a runway on it in 1975.
"Any visit or activity we undertake there are part and parcel of our Constitutional mandate to ensure the safety, well-being and livelihood of our citizens living in this municipality," Bolivar said.
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