The Philippines will begin rehabilitating its facilities in the Kalayaan Group of Islands at the Spratly archipelago during the first quarter of this year, expecting neither protest nor harassment from China.

“We plan to improve the facilities. On Pag-asa, we plan to improve the runway and the beaching ramp, and build facilities for our fishermen,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters on Tuesday.

Lorenzana said he was confident that China would neither protest the planned activities nor harass local ships carrying materials and equipment needed for the repairs as it had done in the past.

“I don’t think they will protest because our purpose there is peaceful. It is for our fishermen [and] for peaceful purposes,” he said.

He noted that the Philippines had a “good dialogue and communication channel” with China through the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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