MANILA: The Philippines said yesterday it would ask a UN tribunal to speed up its appeal to declare China’s expansive claims to the South China Sea invalid.
A formal request would be filed for a resolution in the case this year or early 2015, foreign department spokesman Charles Jose said. “We are consulting our legal team to present a request to the tribunal if it can hasten its process earlier, rather than later.”
China claims most of the South China Sea, including waters near the shores of its neighbours, which has led to escalating territorial disputes.
President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma also confirmed that the Philippines would repair an airstrip on Thitu island, one of the disputed Spratly islands occupied by Philippine troops in the South China Sea.
“We have funds. We will finish repairs within the year,” Coloma said. Anticipating opposition from other claimants to the area, he quoted defence department spokesman Peter Paul Galvez as saying “China’s reaction will always be unfavourable”.
The island, called Pagasa (Hope) by the Philippines, has a small town and an airstrip for civilian and military flights. However, the airstrip has been allowed to deteriorate. AFP