The Philippine government has sought clarification from China amid reports that it was building a permanent structure at the disputed Panatag Shoal.
“We are seeking information from Chinese authorities to clarify the accuracy of the report,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a text message to reporters on Saturday.
Hainan Daily newspaper, quoting Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie, has reported that China would build an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal.
On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it could not comment on the said constructions plans as it had yet to verify the report.
In a text message on Saturday, foreign affairs spokesperson Charles Jose echoed the same statement from Abella, saying the government was still clarifying the report with China.
The Philippines and China have been locked in a long-standing maritime dispute over the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea). In July 2016, the Philippines won its diplomatic protest at the United Nations arbitral tribunal but China refused to recognize the landmark ruling.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said the he would not raise the issue for now with China as the Philippines rebuilds its strained relationship with the superpower nation.
Duterte, however, said that diplomatic talks would continue and assured that the issue would be raised within his term as President. JE
Tags: Benham Rise, China, China Construction, Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie, Department of Foreign Affairs, Duterte, Ernesto Abella, impeachment, Panatag Shoal, Scarborough, South China Sea, sovereignty