The Philippine Star reports that contrary to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s claim, China structures on man-made islands grew under the Duterte administration. An excerpt of the full report:
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday claimed that everything found on reclaimed islands in the West Philippine Sea was already there when President Rodrigo Duterte took over in 2016, but a report released late last year showed that many structures were installed during the current Philippine administration. Roque also dismissed as not “news” any more a newspaper report on Monday showing that China’s militarization of its artificial West Philippine Sea islands was nearly complete.
“But our position is everything found on these islands were already there when the president took over,” Roque answered in a press briefing in the Palace when asked about installations done under the administration of Duterte. “As I said this militarization, if you can call it militarization, did not happen during the Duterte administration alone. It’s been long militarized,” Roque said.
However, a report released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative in December last year showed that China continued its construction of infrastructure necessary for fully functioning air and naval bases on its larger outposts. AMTI said some of the structures that were built since the start of 2017, well into Duterte’s first year in office, range from underground storage areas and administrative buildings to large radar and sensor arrays.