PH may file protest vs China only if…
The Philippines is considering the possibility of filing a diplomatic protest against China over its latest activity in Panganiban Reef, but will check first if its new ally is in breach of an international obligation, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Photos obtained by the Inquirer showed that China had landed military transport planes on Panganiban Reef (international name: Mischief Reef), which is within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
Experts warned that this could be a precedent to Beijing sending more aircraft, including fighter jets, to its man-made islands in the strategic waters.
Following the Inquirer report, lawmakers have called on the administration to file a diplomatic protest.
Asked if the government considered it bad faith on China’s part to ramp up activities on its occupied islands, Roque echoed the Department of Foreign Affairs’ statement that it was mulling over the possibility of filing a diplomatic protest.
“Obviously, if we consider a diplomatic protest, then you consider the other state to be in breach of an international obligation somehow,” he said in a press briefing.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon on Wednesday said he would give more priority to solving the country’s internal security concerns than the territorial challenges in the South China Sea.
“To me, my priority is to strengthen the country from within,” Esperon told reporters on the sidelines of the change of command ceremony in the Armed Forces of the Philippines attended by President Duterte.
Esperon, a former AFP chief, said he did not consider a Chinese military plane landing on Panganiban Reef a “threat” to the Philippines, but acknowledged that it was a “matter of concern if it is militarization” and directed at Manila.
Nonetheless, Esperon said the government would raise the matter during the regular China-Philippines Bilateral Consultative Mechanism.
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