The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has received a direct order from President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday to occupy all islands of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to strengthen the country’s claims.

President Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte said he has ordered the military to build structures and raise the Philippine flag in islands that belong to the country.

“We have to maintain our jurisdiction over the South China Sea,” Duterte told reporters in Palawan.

“I have ordered the Armed Forces to occupy all, lagyan ng structures at Philippine flag,” he said.

Duterte added that he plans to visit Pag-asa (Thitu) Island on Independence Day, June 12, to raise the Philippine flag there.

“Sa coming Independence Day natin. I might I may go to Pag-asa island to raise the Philippine flag there,” he said.

“Basta yung bakante na atin na tirhan na natin mukhang agawan kasi ito ng isla eh,” President added.

Last month Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana received an order from the President for the immediate repair of facilities in Pag-asa island.

“May kautusan ang presidente (Rodrigo Duterte), na sa Pag-asa Island, (dapat) pagandahin ang facilities. Lorenzana said

Priority project in the next months is the repair of our runway in Pag-asa, so we can go there anytime,” Lorenzana added. -JCE.