The Philippines will not respond to China’s provocative actions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which include the reclamation activities in two reefs that are within the country’s exclusive economic zone, Malacanang said on Saturday.
“The tack that we have taken is that we do not respond to provocative actions, including military action. We always exhaust the diplomatic channels and legal means in addressing this issue,” Palace deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview aired at Radyo ng Bayan.
She made the statement following the discovery that China has also started reclamation work at the Gaven and Calderon Reef. Philippine authorities earlier reported China’s reclamation activities in the Mabini Reef near Palawan.
“We have seen ships that are capable of bringing in reclamation materials, but we can’t confirm if the reclamation has been completed. These are two different things,” Valte pointed out.
She added that the situation is being assessed by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“This is so that we can find out what the logical next step for us to do in light of the fact that we have already filed our memorial before the arbitral tribunal,” Valte said.
“We continue to push for the Code of Conduct,” she added.
The Philippines has filed a memorial or complaint against China before an international tribunal to contest Beijing’s claims in the disputed sea.
China’s aggression has been increasingly felt in the West Philippine Sea.
On Friday, Vietnam released dramatic footage showing a large Chinese ship chasing and ramming one of its fishing boats which then sank near an oil rig in contested waters.
The video images, shot from a nearby Vietnamese vessel, show a much larger Chinese ship racing after a small wooden Vietnamese fishing boat, ploughing into it and causing it to tip over and sink.
Vietnamese officials have said the 10 fishermen on board were rescued by nearby vessels after the incident, which occurred about 12 nautical miles southwest of the oil rig.