Duterte: New barges seen in South China Sea

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2016 06:01 PM | Updated as of Sep 02 2016 06:42 PM

Intel reports say there may be another construction somewhere

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday China might be planning to build new structures in disputed waters, but maintained he would not raise the maritime row at a summit of Southeast Asian leaders next week.

Duterte said he received an intelligence report that “there seems to be new barges coming in and they suspect that’s going to be another construction somewhere.”

"What I want to know is, are there any additional construction going on especially in the area of Masinloc?" Duterte said, referring to rich fishing grounds that China has held since 2012.

It was the first report of alleged Chinese build-up in the South China Sea since a United Nations-backed tribunal ruled in July that Beijing had no historic rights in the resource-rich waters.

The South China Sea, Duterte said, was a “potential flashpoint,” and setting up a “military institution” in the area could disrupt world trade.

“I do not intend to raise the issue before the ASEAN. If I do, it will be a convoluted thing,” Duterte said, maintaining that he preferred bilateral talks with China. “I will not because I do not want any clutters there.”

Duterte is traveling to Brunei, Laos, and Indonesia starting this weekend for bilateral visits and to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Vientiane. It will be his first foreign trip since assuming office on June 30.

Duterte reiterated that any negotiations with China should be based on the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision that favored the Philippines.

“Whether you like it or not, I proceed, and my predicate for my willingness to talk to you would be the arbitration judgment in our favor,” he said.