PH to protest China weather sta­tions, if re­ports are true – Panelo

Watchmen Daily Journal - - Nation -

MANILA – Mala­cañang said that if it gets of­fi­cial con­firma on about China build­ing weather sta ons in the West Philip­pine Sea, the Philip­pines would file a diploma c protest.

Yes­ter­day, Pres­i­den al Spokesper­son Sal­vador Panelo was asked about the Palace's re­sponse to news re­ports quo ng a Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman as say­ing Bei­jing has in­stalled weather sta ons in some Spratlys is­lands in the West Philip­pine Sea.

Panelo said the Philip­pines has not re­ceived of­fi­cial con­firma on of what he de­scribed as "merely a news re­port." But if the re­port is "val­i­dated," he said the Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs (DFA) would file a protest.

"Cer­tainly, the DFA will do its work and make the nec­es­sary diplo­matic protest," he said dur­ing a press brief­ing.

"Again, these are news re­ports. We have not val­i­dated that. But if they are val­i­dated, I'm sure the new sec­re­tary of for­eign af­fairs will do his job," Panelo added.

Asked again about the ex­pected protest, Panelo said he did not want to "preempt" the DFA.

How­ever, the DFA's def­i­ni­tion of a diplo­matic protest in­cludes ver­bal re­minders and even state­ments ut­tered by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte in pub­lic speeches, at least un­der the lead­er­ship of Alan Peter Cayetano.

Cayetano has since been re­placed by new for­eign sec­re­tary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Though Panelo dis­missed the re­ports, they quoted a Chi­nese of­fi­cial, Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman Lu Kang, speak­ing dur­ing a press con­fer­ence. Lu's re­marks are in the of­fi­cial tran­script of the Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry it­self.

Lu said China has been op­er­at­ing weather sta­tions in three ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands built upon Kag­itin­gan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef), Subi Reef (Zamora Reef), and Pan­gani­ban Reef (Mis­chief Reef), all of which are within the West Philip­pine Sea.

A 2016 rul­ing by the Per­ma­nent Ar­bi­tra­tion Court in the Hague in­val­i­dated China's claim to fea­tures in the West Philip­pine Sea and de­clared that Bei­jing vi­o­lated the Philip­pines' sovereignty when it built ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands out of these fea­tures.

The an­nounce­ment about the weather sta­tions comes weeks be­fore Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping's visit to Manila.

Duterte has o€en said he would as­sert the Hague rul­ing be­fore Xi at the "right me." Asked if it is al­ready too late to do that, given China's in­cur­sions, Panelo said, "It can never be too late when you protest on a par cu­lar thing, es­pe­cially when the award is yours."

Duterte is reach­ing his third year in of­fice in June 2019, but has so far not used the Hague rul­ing to as­sert the Philip­pines' rights over the West Philip­pine Sea.

"We'll have to leave it with the Pres­i­dent's judg­ment on when and where the per­fect me would be made," said Panelo.

The new weather sta ons, how­ever, are only among at least 1,600 re­ported struc­tures built by China in the Spratlys and the Para­cel Is­lands as of May this year.

China has also been mil­i­ta­riz­ing the is­lands, which has prompted con­demna on from South­east Asian coun­tries, the United States, and Aus­tralia, among oth­ers.

(CSIS/AMTI and Dig­i­talGlobe photo)

This is an aerial pho­to­graph of Pan­gani­ban Reef (Mis­chief Reef), where China has built a weather sta­tion.

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