No diplomatic protest yet; PH wants independent validation of weather stations in Spratlys
By Nestor Corrales
INQUIRER.net
November 8, 2018 at 3:16 pm
Salvador Panelo

President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo (File photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The Philippine government wants to independently validate the presence of weather stations in the disputed Spratly islands even after the Chinese government has confirmed the building of such structures in the area.

“It is in our own interest to validate any claim whether it’s for or against this government or for or against their own government,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

“We have to look whether its true or not and then we will make our move, diplomatically,” Panelo added.

In a press briefing on November 1, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China has built weather stations on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef), Subi Reef (Zamora Reef), and Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in the West Philippine Sea.

Asked if the government was concerned with these recent structures in the disputed sea, Panelo refused to make any comment.

“Until such time as we had validated the claim, I don’t think we cannot make any response to that. We will wait for the official finding of the DFA,” he said.

“As I have said, I would defer to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. It’s his turf, he knows better than I do in that aspect. We will have to wait for an official statement coming from his department,” he added.

He said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. was already validating the report.

“As far as I know, coming from him, he is validating that news story coming from abroad regarding this particular claim of by the Chinese government on these weather stations,” he said.

Asked what kind of validation the government was doing, he said, “That’s for the DND (Department of National Defense)  to explore what kind of method they will undertake to validate such claim.”

If proven, he reiterated the government would file a diplomatic protest against China./lb

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