THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will not take any military action against China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea ( West Philippines Sea) but will intensify monitoring such activities in the disputed waterway, Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Monday.
The Philippines, according to Gazmin, will continue to observe the rule of law in dealing with China’s alleged saber-rattling.
“One wrong does not right another wrong,” he said, referring to the latest dredging activities in the Panganiban Reef also known as Mischief Reef, one of the mineral-rich islands in the disputed Spratlys.
In denouncing China’s activities, Gazmin echoed an earlier observation of Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez that Beijing’s apparent military build-up will cause a major shift in regional peace and security in Asia if not immediately stopped and dismantled.
“[The reclamation activities affect regional security]. [The] region [will be affected]in terms of freedom of navigation, freedom of the air space,” Gazmin told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City (Metro Manila).
He described as “significant’ US President Barack Obama recently denouncing China’s activities in contested territory.
Gazmin said while the Philippines is worried about the reclamation activities, all it can do now is to monitor.
Earlier, the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) released satellite images showing the Chinese reclamations around a submerged reef within an area that the Philippines regards as its exclusive economic zone, with several dredges in operation and seawalls built.
Before-and-after images of other outcrops in the Spratly Islands also show runways where corals once lay, and man-made harbors replacing natural reefs.
“A chain of small, artificial land formations is visible. New structures, fortified seawalls and construction equipment are present at several locations along the reef,” the Washington-based CSIS said on its website.