Palace: Gov’t not silent on militarization of China in West Philippine Sea
Malacañang on Thursday denied accusations that the Philippine government was being silent on the continued militarization of China in the West Philippine Sea.
In fact, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Manila and Beijing had a “frank and candid” discussion on the South China Sea issue during their bilateral consultative meeting (BCM) last February.
“Ang huling pagkakaalam ko po sinabi sa akin mismo ni Secretary [Alan Peter] Cayetano hindi lang sila nagprotesta pero yung bilateral mechanism nila kung saan pinag-uusapan yung mga problema sa South China Sea ay pinag-usapan daw yung paggawa nga ng armas at ng airport at mga eroplano doon mismo sa mga isla na yan, pinag usapan po daw yan sa bilateral meeting,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
“Lahat daw po yan ay napag-usapan doon sa bilateral meeting na ginagawa,” he added.
The BCM, established in October 2016, was meant “to discuss issues of concern to either side, and cooperation in the South China Sea, and identify mutually acceptable approaches towards addressing this issue,” Roque earlier said.
He said the BCM was the proper venue to raise issues in the South China Sea.
“Hindi lang po papel na protest ang nangyari nagkaroon po ng open, frank, candid, frontal discussion on this issue,” he said, referring to the BCM between Manila and Beijing held last February.
“Mas matindi pa nga po, hindi lang protesta iyon. Talagang ipinarating po nila iyong ating saloobin na tayo po ay nababahala, frontal, sa mekanismo na binuo natin para sa usaping South China Sea,” he added.
Asked to clarify if the Philippines has filed diplomatic protests against China on its militarization and reclamation in the South China Sea, Roque “protests were filed.”
However, he did not give details on the protest.
The CNBC, quoting Pentagon sources, reported the deployment of Chinese missiles in three Philippine claimed reefs. INQUIRER.net has also reported the landing of military planes on Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef).
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he was aware of the missile installations and the continued militarization of China in the disputed sea but said it was not yet time to raise the United Nations arbitral ruling invalidating China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. /vvp
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.