- Roque said the Duterte government has ‘consistently filed protests’ vs. China
- These protests have supposedly been raised in bilateral negotiations
- However, Roque said he could not confirm if a new protest is necessary
MANILA, Philippines – After denying the Duterte administration is being ‘too soft ‘ on China’s continued aggression in the West Philippine Sea, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said ‘bilateral negotiations’ are ongoing on ‘contentious issues such as the South China Sea’.
At the press briefing in Malacañang on Monday, Roque said these issues are being discussed in what is known as a Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea which next meeting will be held in Manila on Tuesday, February 13.
“I confirm, we have protested not only the building of the islands but also the alleged militarization of the islands and therefore contrary to claims of critics, we have long protested the military use of the artificial islands in the South China Sea,” said Roque.
Sought for clarification if these ‘protests’ are new, the Palace official said they are in fact new but failed to elaborate further.
“The Philippine government has consistently filed protest; and even during the term of President Duterte, we have filed protest. In fact, tomorrow if you want, I will bring the lists of protests… just to set the record straight that we have been protesting,” he added.
However, Roque said he could not confirm if another protest is necessarily “because it is ours, it’s in the nature of ‘a continuing protests’”.
“And take note that even in the bilateral between the Chinese President and President Duterte in Vietnams, it was raised also, the issue of the fear particularly by ASEAN countries that there is militarization in the South China Sea which China denied,” said Roque.
Last week the Inquirer published an article and satellite photos which supposedly showed that at least seven reefs in the contested territory occupied by Beijing are in the finishing stages and have been transformed into island fortresses.