Navy raises alarm over alleged China-backed development of 3 islands

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2019 04:31 PM

Philippine Navy troops arrive at their headquarters in Manila on Nov. 08, 2018 after joint drills with their Chinese counterparts. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The Philippine Navy on Monday raised concern over security implications of a reported plan to develop 3 "strategic" islands with the help of Chinese financiers.

The Navy was made aware of the development plans for Fuga Island, Chiquita Island, and Grande Island "a couple of months ago," said its spokesman, Captain Jonathan Zata.

Waters surrounding Fuga Island, located in the northwest, is home to telecommunications cables. It also served as a jump-off point for troops during World War II, he said.

Grande and Chiquita are located on the mouth of Subic Bay, home to a free port zone and former US Navy base, he said.

Sought for comment on the reported development, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza, said his office was "not also consulted when it was offered to the Chinese for development into a tourist destination."

"All we can do now is to monitor what else they are doing that may impact on our security," he said.

The three islands are "important as far as our security is concerned,” Zata said.

"We’re calling their attention na please consider the security implication of these islands, or of these locations should the national government or higher leadership desire or decide to convert it into something more useful than its current state," he said.

Referring to the telecom infrastructure in water surrounding Fuga Island, he said, "If this could not be properly secured this might impact on our capability to get in touch with the rest of the world."