THE Philippine government sees nothing “objectionable” with a US destroyer sailing near China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea, a Palace official said on Friday.
Quoting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the US move was part of its right to freedom of navigation.
“In the words of Secretary Lorenzana, the Philippines has no objection regarding that presumed innocent passage of a sea craft and that there is, of course, a freedom of navigation,” Abella told reporters.
“In other words, from our side, we don’t find it objectionable,” the Palace official added.
The USS John S. McCain sailed near Mischief Reef, a move Beijing labeled as a “provocation” while the US called it appropriate under international law. The reef is an artificial island built by China in the Spratly Islands, known by China as the Nansha Islands.
The US has criticized China’s construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the disputed territories and was concerned it could be used to restrict free nautical movement.
China’s claims in the South China Sea are also contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.