Philippines can’t stop China military buildup, continue “peaceful means” to prevent this
The Philippines cannot prevent China at this time from its reported militarization at the South China Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said on Friday.
"There is nothing that we can do about that now, whether or not it is being done for purposes of further militarizing these facilities that they have put up," said Yasay in a press conference in Singapore when asked if the Department of Foreign Affairs would issue a note verbale or statement against China's recent action in the disputed area.
"We cannot stop China at this point in time and saying do not put that up, we will continue to pursue peaceful means at which all of these can be prevented," he added.
China has moved to weaponize all the artificial islands it has constructed in the disputed South China Sea. This was based from the findings of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) which monitored structures that China constructed on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands.
In its microblog, the information bureau of the Chinese defense ministry defended its move in the Nansha Islands, the name China uses for the Spratly Islands.
It said: “"The deployment of necessary military facilities that will be mainly used for defense and self-defense purposes is legitimate. For instance, if anyone flexes muscle in front of your house, shouldn't you prepare a bow and arrow?"
Yasay said the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal has made a decision invalidating China's nine-dash line, which covers almost the entire South China Sea, including the areas within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zones of other countries, including the Philippines.
"The issue about the militarization and the construction of permanent facilities by China, insofar as the disputed territory with the Philippines is concerned, which we consider as part of our Exclusive Economic Zone, has already been passed upon by the arbitral tribunal and decision there is very clear," he said.
"And on that basis, in fact, we will move forward in the future insofar as pursuing the enforcement of the decision of the arbitral tribunal on the basis of that findings and conclusions."
Yasay said other countries which have special concerns as far as these activities of China is concerned could take their respective actions in relation to their interest.
"Such as insofar as the right to the freedom of navigation that they would like to protect and over flight operations, the United States is concerned about this, Japan is concerned about this, the European Union is concerned about this," he said.
"Let them take whatever action is necessary in the pursuit of their national interest is concerned and we will leave it at that," Yasay said.
For the Philippines, Yasay said it has its own bilateral engagements with China.
"And we will continue to engage China insofar as the other aspects of our relationship is concerned ? trade, investment, people-to-people contact, cooperation, infrastructure development and other such assistance that will have no strings attached," he said.
He said this is part of a confidence building measure.
Yasay said the dispute on the South China Sea has been placed at the back burner, but "without compromising our rights as declared by the arbitral tribunal insofar its decision of July 12, 2016 is concerned." Celerina Monte/DMS