MANILA- The Philippines is hopeful that China will fulfill its promise to refrain from reclaiming more areas of the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Thursday as it insisted that Manila would stand by its rights in the disputed waters while busy addressing the coronavirus pandemic.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque said maritime disputes should no longer grow as he noted that the government needs to "do the correct thing even if it's unpopular."
"Ang pangako po ng China na tayo naman po ay umaasang tutuparin nila, walang bagong reclamation na gagawin dahil hindi po dapat mapalala pa 'yung problema pagdating sa reclamation," Roque said in a virtual press briefing.
(China's promise that we expect them to fulfill is that there will be no more reclamations because the problem should no longer worsen.)
The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which China claims in near entirety.
While the world was focused on addressing a virus pandemic that began in a Chinese city, China recently established administrative districts on the Paracel and Spratly Islands, where Vietnam and the Philippines have partial claims, respectively.
"As to whether or not there will be specific structures built on the reclaimed property, hindi naman po 'yan sakop doon sa sinabi ng China pero gayon pa man kung kinakailangan magprotesta gagawin po natin yan," he added.