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Pag-asa residents 'safe' from Chinese invasion, says Defense chief

PAG-ASA ISLAND, Palawan — Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro believes that the residents here, numbering less than 200, are safe from Chinese invasion since «no right thinking nation will attack civilians.»

Teodoro was asked whether the civilian residents were safe amid the constant presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels and Chinese maritime militia ships loitering near the island.

Pag-asa is the biggest among the Philippine territories within the Kalayaan Island Group.

Asked how fast the Chinese boats could reach the island, Teodoro said it was «more or less an hour but if other types of [ships] it would be faster.»

«Pero dudugo ilong nila kung subukan nila (But they will face fierce resistance [from Filipino troops] if they will try [attack]),» Teodoro warned.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Teodoro gave a «good answer.»

Zubiri and fellow senators Emmanuel Joel Villanueva and Joseph Victor «JV» Ejercito flew here to inaugurate a three-story barracks for the Philippine Navy and a health center.


«This is a fact and cannot be denied. The evidence speaks for itself. They have no right to be there,» Teodoro said.

But, in a worse case scenario, Teodoro, in a press briefing, said the government has «contingency protocols [to execute in case there is a need to evacuate residents] which I can't discuss.»

Teodoro also said that because of the growing Philippine population, future generations needed the resources in the West Philippine Sea.

«The West Philippine Sea is the hope of the Philippines. We cannot abandon it. We need to fight for it. We need to inhabit it to make it sustainable,» he said.


«We need civilians here because this is for them. This is not just purely for military purposes. It's beneficiaries are the civilians. The undersea and subsea resources are for you all,» Teodoro said.

«You see the mobility that we can generate. So, it is easy. That's why we were able to transport our brothers and sisters here,» he said in Filipino and English.

Teodoro raised the need to strengthen facilities here — to make it more sustainable «so that there is no more need to evacuate.»

He said China capitalized on its strength to conduct its