The Philippines—not China—is still in possession of Sandy Cay, the sandbar closest to the island of Pagasa in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana asserted on Thursday.
The defense chief told a virtual forum organized by the National Defense College of the Philippines that the government could have taken control of the cay and even developed it, had it not been for a status quo agreement that was signed with China.
“We should have taken control of Sandy Cay before, but in 2018, when we decided to put up some infrastructure, the Chinese raised a howl,” he said, adding, “We cannot do that, there was an agreement between the foreign affairs secretary and the minister of foreign affairs of China earlier in 2018.”
The defense chief did not disclose the details of the agreement and who was at the helm of the foreign affairs office then when the supposed agreement was signed.
Lorenzana said there had been plans to develop not only Pagasa, but even all of the islands and features occupied by the country in the WPS.