Philippines to raise China's continuous militarization in South China Sea in bilateral consultation, official says
The Philippines is expected to raise the continuous Chinese militarization in the disputed South China Sea during the second bilateral consultation mechanism to be held in Manila on Tuesday, Malacanang said on Monday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Chinese delegation for the BCM will be led by Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou, while the Philippine delegation will be led by DFA Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo.
"All these issues relevant to the South China Sea are being discussed in this mechanism," he said when asked if Manila would raise China's militarization in the disputed waters.
Further pressed if the BCM could be just an exercise in futility, Roque said, "No, it's being discussed seriously in the BCM."
The BCM, which was established following President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to China in October 2017, aims to discuss issues of concern to either side and cooperation in the South China Sea and identify mutually acceptable approaches towards addressing the issue, he said.
"So we are not being soft on China. There are ongoing bilateral talks as far as contentious South China Sea issues are concerned," he said.
"I confirm, we have protested not only the building of the islands but also the alleged militarization of the islands and therefore contrary to claims of critics, we have long protested the military use of the artificial islands in the South China Sea," Roque stressed.
The Duterte administration has been accused of being soft to China as far as the South China Sea issue is concerned.
Roque said he was not sure if another protest would be lodged against China.
"I do not know if another protest is necessary because it is ours. It’s in the nature of ‘a continuing protests’," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS