Locsin hits PLDT after China, Vietnam roaming texts on Pag-asa Island

Sofia Tomacruz

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Locsin hits PLDT after China, Vietnam roaming texts on Pag-asa Island


'Just drop that roaming partnership shit with China and Vietnam,' Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr tells PLDT

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr criticized telecommunications provider PLDT after its mobile subsidiary Smart sent roaming texts “welcoming” Philippine defense officials and reporters to China and Vietnam as they arrived on Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea. 

“To PLDT. Just drop that roaming partnership shit with China and Vietnam. You fuckers are making my work harder,” Locsin tweeted on Wednesday, June 10. 

“Drop it before I visit you,” he added. 

Defense officials and reporters visited the island on Tuesday, June 9, to inaugurate a newly finished beaching ramp that will allow ships to dock on the island and directly offload passengers and cargo.

WELCOME. These screen caps from defense officials and reporters show roaming text alerts welcoming them to China or Vietnam while visiting Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea on June 9, 2020. Sourced photos

Cellular signal from Philippine telcos is either weak or practically non-existent on Pag-asa island. While mobile users usually receive roaming texts when they arrive in foreign soil, Pag-asa is part of Philippine territory. 

During his visit to the island on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said only Smart had a facility on the island, though it was down during the visit.

The welcome text messages from Chinese and Vietnamese roaming service providers mean they have stronger signals on Pag-asa than Philippine providers. 

To address this, Lorenzana proposed the Philippines could set up cell sites on the island to provide residents with stronger signal.

Pag-asa, considered the country’s main outpost in the West Philippine Sea, lies 480 kilometers west of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It is surrounded by other reefs claimed by other countries including Vietnam and China, which transformed Subi Reef into a military base. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.