- Roque maintained the Philippines is not being ‘too soft ‘ on China
- This after the ASEAN foreign ministers released a statement of concern over the ongoing land reclamations in the West PH Sea
- Earlier, Inquirer published satellite photos showing the nearly completed militarization of disputed islands
MANILA, Philippines – The Malacañang Palace on Wednesday denied that the Duterte administration is being ‘too soft’ on China amid reports that the latter’s militarization of several islands in the West Philippine Sea is nearing its completion.
Early this week, the Inquirer published an article and satellite photos which supposedly showed that at least seven reefs in the contested territory occupied by Beijing is in the finishing stages and have been transformed into island fortresses.
The ASEAN foreign ministers have also issued a statement raising concerns “on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.”
But in a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines, being an ASEAN member, is one of those who are calling for a binding code of conduct that would ease the tension in the disputed territory.
“We are not being too soft but we have an established policy. Number one is, we are of course one with ASEAN in recognizing that this is a concern of all ASEAN countries, the freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea,” said Roque.
“Number two of course, our common concern is peace, security and stability in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes,” he added.
The ASEAN foreign ministers led by Singapore’s Vivian Balakrishnan released a statement on Tuesday, following the recent development in the West Philippine Sea wherein she also called for the “need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint, and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation.”
Meanwhile, China has yet to release its own statement in response to the ASEAN’s.