By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is mulling to take diplomatic action against China for alleged breach of international obligation following the reported presence of two warplanes on an artificial island in South China Sea.
“The Secretary of Foreign Affairs has said that they are preparing and exploring the possibility of a diplomatic protest,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a Palace news conference.
“Obviously, if we consider a diplomatic protest, then you consider the other state to be in breach of an international obligation,” he added.
Two Chinese military planes were reportedly recently seen on its artificially-built island in the Panganiban Reef also known as Mischief Reef, located within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano recently said the government was verifying the reported presence of the foreign aircraft in the area. He acknowledged that they were considering filing a protest pending a confirmation from the defense department.
Roque explained that the government’s action on China meant that “we’re doing something about it.”
“We’re not just making a big deal out of it. We’re not being noisy about it because being noisy will definitely not be constructive to our bilateral relations, but we’re doing our job,” he said in an early television interview.
The Philippines and China are locked in a dispute over ownership of islands in the South China Sea.
A United Nations-recognized arbitral tribunal earlier ruled China’s maritime claims were illegal and baseless, virtually upholding the country’s maritime entitlements in the South China Sea. China, however, has refused to recognize the case and continued with its reclamation and military buildup in the disputed territory.
Malacañang earlier said the government has filed a number of protests over China’s activities including military buildup in the area. The government opposes any militarization of the contested territory since it threatens the peace and security in the region, according to Roque.
Roque added that the government was relying on China’s word not to build more artificial islands in the region.