Duterte says will reinforce, not militarize, Philippines-controlled Spratlys islets

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 10, 2017 3:08 AM

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he had ordered the military to reinforce areas in the South China Sea controlled by Manila to maintain the geopolitical balance, and assured China no "offensive weapons" would be placed there.

Duterte said the Philippines wanted peace and friendship with China but also said he wanted the Philippines to bolster what territory it had in the Spratly archipelago as islands and reefs are grabbed in the disputed waterway. However, he said the Philippines would not engage in any military buildup.

Philippine defense and military officials said on Friday they would upgrade existing facilities and not occupy new territories, a day after Duterte caused alarm by saying he had ordered troops to occupy uninhabited islands and shoals that the Philippines claims.

(Reporting by Martin Petty and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Paul Tait)