FORT DEL PILAR, BAGUIO CITY – Western Command head Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez said the Philippines has already planned for the “worst case scenario” in connection with China’s decision to install surface-to-air missiles in the disputed Woody Island of the Parcels Group.
This was disclosed by the official during an interview during the annual PMA Alumni Homecoming Saturday at Fort Del Pilar, Baguio City.
“Basically there will be no adjustment (in our security preparations) as we have made up plans to be vigilant, how we are going to be updated (about possible incidents in the West Philippine Sea). We are not expecting any to happen but that’s how we plan, we plan for the worst. That’s how the military plans, so we take into consideration the worst case scenario,” he added.
Satellite imagery and US intelligence reports have confirmed earlier Taiwanese claims that China had deployed surface-to-air missile batteries in Woody Island, which is being claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.
It is over 200 nautical miles away from Kalayaan Island.
Lopez also said Chinese decision to install the offensive weapons had the effect of militarizing the region.
Reports of China’s positioning of missiles on the island came after the conclusion on Tuesday of a leaders’ summit between the United States and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Sunnylands, California, where they jointly called for the peaceful resolution of disputes and respect for legal and diplomatic processes without resorting to threat or use of force.
China is locked in years-long territorial conflicts with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan over the resource-rich waters, where undersea minerals and huge oil and gas deposits have been discovered in several areas. Without an immediate resolution in sight, analysts feared that the overlapping claims can result into a full-blown military conflict.