The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) “is in the process of verifying alleged announcements of proposals to build structures” in the West Philippine Sea, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Tuesday.
Malacanang made the statement after a news report said that according to the Hainan Daily newspaper, Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie, the top official in Sansha City, said that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal,
The shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, is part of the West Philippine Sea where the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights.
Abella said the DFA was checking whether the announcements were true “since these statements do not reflect the official position” of China.
“Furthermore, PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] has repeatedly asserted that RP is not giving up its claims and our entitlements over the area,” Abella said.
“He has said time and again that he will defend and protect the interests of the Filipino people, and will take necessary action at at a time most fitting and advantageous to us,” the spokesperson added.
But Duterte on Sunday said the Philippines was incapable of stopping China from its reported plan to build structures in Panatag.
“We cannot stop China from doing this thing. Di nga na-para ng Amerikano [Americans weren’t even able to halt it.],” he said.
“So what do you want me to do? What do you want? Declare war against China? I can, but we’ll all lose our military and policemen tomorrow,” the President added.
However, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Monday said “the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, which are expressly tasked by the Constitution to defend the national territory.”
Carpio said that under RA No. 9522, Scarborough Shoal is part of Philippine national territory… Any statement that the Philippines cannot stop China from building on Scarborough Shoal actually encourages China to build on Scarborough Shoal.”
[READ RELATED STORY: Carpio: Saying PH can’t stop China from building in Panatag pushes China more]