MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said the Philippines cannot stop China from building facilities in Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) in the disputed South China Sea.
Duterte issued the statement when asked to clarify reports that Beijing was building a radar station in Panatag.
“We cannot stop China from doing its thing. Hindi nga napara ng Amerikano eh,” Duterte said.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio yesterday warned that if China sets up a radar station on Panatag Shoal, it will have complete radar coverage of the South China Sea. Carpio said China may eventually militarize the radar station, like what it has done to Fiery Cross Reef.
Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that China planned to undertake reclamation work in Panatag Shoal but the United States apparently managed to talk Beijing out of it.
The shoal, located 230 miles from Luzon and prized by Filipino fishermen for its rich resources, was seized by China from the Philippines in 2012.
Chinese coast guard blocked Filipino fishermen from accessing the shoal, prompting Manila to bring Beijing to a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal.
The President recalled his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping wherein he warned the Chinese leader that Manila will use the arbitral ruling once Beijing begins to “tinker with entitlement” in the disputed waters.
“I said I will not invoke the arbitral ruling now. But there will be a time, in my term where I will bring the issue back on the table… and it will come,” he said.
Duterte said just like Russia, Chinese ships are welcome to come and dock in Philippine ports.
“Bakit ako mag discriminate against China? We are not at war against China,” he said.