Gazmin: China’s massive reclamation works big worry for PH
DEFENSE Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said China’s reclamation activities in the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) have caused uneasiness across the nation and its neighboring countries.
“We are worried and we continue to stick to our initial reaction, which is to apply the rule of law,” he told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.
“This will have a big effect on regional security and also in terms of freedom of navigation and the air space,” he added.
Last week, latest images released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative revealed significant progress of China’s reclamation activities in Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Images showed visible chains of small, artificial land formations and new structures. Several dredgers were also present on the images taken last March 16.
China first occupied the reef in 1995 and eventually built a military garrison.
Rule of law
“We will continue to launch a protest against the massive reclamation. Alam niyo naman sumusunod tayo sa rule of law. Because of this marami tayong nakukuhang supporters in terms of our case, the latest of which is the statement of President [Barack] Obama,” Gazmin said.
“So ganun lang tayo. Di mo aaksyunan ang mali ng isang mali,” he added.
Obama recently said Washington is concerned that China is using its “sheer size and muscle” to push around smaller nations that are claimants of the South China Sea.
China has drawn criticisms from the US following their aggressive reclamation activities around the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines has suspended its repair and construction activities since last year as these might have an effect on the arbitration complaint filed against China.
The Philippines filed an arbitration case in 2013 questioning China’s nine-dash-line” claims. AC
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