MANILA - Malacañang on Friday said the Philippine government strongly opposes the reclamation work being done by China around the Mischief Reef which the Philippines insists is in its exclusive economic zone.
"The government is strongly opposed to any reclamation work being done in disputed areas of the West Philippines Sea. In fact, [the Department of] Foreign Affairs immediately filed a diplomatic protest when it learned of the work at the first instance," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a text message.
Valte said the government is committed to pursue legal and diplomatic options in resolving its territorial dispute with China.
"We are committed to pursuing legal and diplomatic tracks as grounded in President Aquino's policy of a peaceful and rules-based approach to resolving the maritime disputes," she said.
New satellite images have shown that China has not stopped its construction activities in disputed waters.
Beijing has rejected criticism of its activities, saying work is only being done in areas that are part of their territory.
In an interview on ANC's "Headstart," DFA spokesperson Charles Jose insisted that the contested Mischief Reef is part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
"It is part of our 200-nautical mile continental shelf so only the Philippines has the exclusive sovereign right and jurisdiction to this Mischief Reef. So China cannot appropriate the Mischief Reef as part of its territory," Jose said.
"This reclamation work being done by China is really a big concern not only for the Philippines but for all claimant countries that have claim over maritime territories in the South China Sea," he added. -- Reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; ANC