THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has maintained that the Philippines did not receive any reports of island building or land reclamation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) when it was preparing a joint communiqué for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
This was the clarification issued by DFA in response to the August 9 report of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) claiming that China’s reclamation activities in certain territories in the South China Sea have not stopped.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano admitted on Tuesday that he did not want to include “land reclamation” and “militarization” in the South China Sea in the joint communiqué issued by the Asean foreign ministers.
“I didn’t want to include it. It’s not reflective of the present position. They (China) are not reclaiming land anymore,” Cayetano said.
But AMTI in its report branded that statement as false, noting China’s supposed construction works particularly at Tree Island at the Paracel group.
The area is on the South China Sea but not part of the Philippine territorial claims.
“While there have been land reclamation activities that have taken place in the Paracels in the previous months based on the AMTI report, the same report did not indicate that such activity was taking place just prior to the AMM,” said foreign affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar in a statement.
He also said the position of the Philippines was to always reflect on the current situation in the West Philippine Sea and the foreign police direction of the country that has always been based on the latest intelligence on the ground.