MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday said verifying the weather monitoring stations that China has built in some if its artificial in South China Sea’s Spratlys archipelago might “provoke” China.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a CNN interview that the Philippines cannot physically verify the existence of the weather stations.
“You need to go inside the territory that this particular country claims that it’s theirs. So you may have some problems there; may even provoke something that we don’t want,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
Beijing itself admitted that it has started operating a maritime observation center, a meteorological observatory and a national environmental and air quality monitoring station on its man-made islands in the South China Sea.
The South China Morning Post said the marine observation centers are located in Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief reefs.
Since assuming office, President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to downplay Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing and has since saw improved ties with the world’s second-largest economy.
Duterte has also refused to flaunt the Philippines’ victory against China in a United Nations-backed arbitration court in 2016 which invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims to the waters.
The President said he will bring up the arbitration ruling at the proper time.
Panelo insisted that while Manila beat China in the arbitration case, nobody can fully enforce it.
“They claim that it’s theirs, but the arbitral ruling says it’s ours,” Panelo said, referring to strategic sea lane. “Meanwhile, nobody seems to want to enforce it, that is precisely why we’re using the mechanism of diplomacy and negotiation.”