MANILA - Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Sunday said a Senate panel will have to confirm first reports that China had installed missiles on its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.
Asked if there is a need to look into how the government will respond to the military activities of China in the disputed waters, Pimentel said yes.
"Senate foreign relations committee should first find out what really is happening. Then have a closed-door confidential briefing on how the Department of Foreign Affairs intends to handle what is happening on the ground (after this is confirmed)," he told reporters.
US network CNBC reported earlier that the Chinese army had installed anti-ship and air-to-air defenses on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines over the last 30 days, citing sources close to the US intelligence.
President Rodrigo Duterte has not called out China following the reports but instead blamed the United States and former President Benigno Aquino III for their supposed failure to stop China’s militarization of the disputed seas.
But former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said Sunday the Duterte government should file a formal protest against China's military activities in the disputed waters instead of blaming the US or past administrations.
Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio echoed this sentiment, saying an international arbitration court had already ruled that Subi Reef and the Mischief Reef as part of the country's territory. -- with a report from Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News