Palace sees ‘very serious concern’ on China bombers in South China Sea
Malacañang aired “serious concern” on Monday over the presence of Chinese bomber planes in the disputed South China Sea.
“We have no independent verification. But nonetheless we take note of the reports that appeared and we express our serious concerns anew on its impact on constructive efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.
“We view it with very serious concern,” he added.
But Roque echoed the position of the Department of Foreign (DFA) that the government would not publicize its course of action in dealing with the issue.
“Hindi po sa lahat ng isyu kailangan nag-iingay,” he said.
The Palace official did not say if the government would file a diplomatic protest but assured the public that the recent developments in the South China Sea would be brought up during the bilateral consultative mechanism between the Philippines and China to be held “possibly in June.”
“We will bring this issue again in the bilateral mechanism that we have agreed upon with China,” he said. “So the matter will be brought up in the bilateral mechanism that we have established on the West Philippine Sea specifically with China.”
The Philippines and China, through the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) established in October 2016, was meant to tackle issues of concern in the South China Sea.
Roque said the Philippines maintains its call that parties involved in the sea dispute should “avoid actions that would escalate tensions” and called for a “peaceful resolution of disputes.”
“Now the Philippines reaffirms the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, avoid actions that would escalate tensions and peaceful resolutions of disputes in accordance with international law including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Roque said.
Not a threat
Despite expressing serious concern, Roque said the government does not see the landing of bomber planes as a threat to the Philippines.
“Even if we don’t feel that China is a security threat to us, for as long as there are weapons there, there could be mistakes in the discharge of these weapons,” he said.
“And any threat of the use of force in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes — which happens also to be the sea lane where our oil supply passes through and bulk of our exports and imports pass through — is a reason for concern to us,” he added.
On Saturday, China landed long-range nuclear-capable bombers on one of its artificial islands in the South China Sea.
Roque also said that there was no need to convene the National Security Council for now, following the call of former national security adviser Roilo Golez to convene the security council.
“Right now, the President does not see any immediate threat. As I said, we do not consider China to be a threat to our security right now because of our newfound friendship with China,” he said. /kga, je
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