THE Philippine government is validating reports that China was planning to tighten its grip on the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal by starting reclamation activities there, an area that is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“The alleged move of establishing an outpost within the EEZ of the Philippines came from a news report, which needs appropriate validation and confirmation,” Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
He was reacting to a report published Monday by the South China Morning Post, citing a “source close to the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Navy” that Beijing will begin dredging activities around Scarborough Shoal later this year.
The report added that China may ultimately add another airstrip in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“Beijing will take action to carry out land reclamation at Huangyan (the Chinese name for Scarborough Shoal) Island within this year,” the report quoted its source as saying.
“China should regain the initiative to do so because Washington is trying to contain Beijing by establishing a permanent military presence in the region,” it added.
Coloma said that despite the report, the Philippines will continue to abide by the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the SCS and the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (Unclos).
“Thus, it is best that claimant states, that are also signatories to those agreements, abide by its provisions,” he stressed.