MANILA– Malacanang on Saturday maintained that the Philippine government would not respond to provocative actions by China following reports of movements by Chinese ships in two reefs in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“The chosen track that we have taken is that we do not respond to provocative action,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in an interview over state-run dzRB radio.
“We always exhaust the diplomatic channels as well as other legal means that can help us address this particular issue,” she added.
Valte raised the issue after President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday disclosed that he received reports of “developments in other areas within the disputed seas.”
“We’re not saying that they are exactly the same ships that were used in Mabini, but there seems to be similar ships at the very least in a feature… one is Gavin Reef, the other is Cuarteron Reef,” the President said.
Gavin Reef and Cuarteron Reef are low-tide features in the Spratly Islands.
The President said he also received photographs of the ships, describing them as “ships that can be used for reclamation.”
Valte revealed that the President has not confirmed if actual reclamation has started. She added that it is currently being assessed by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“This is so that we can find out what the logical next step for us to do in light of the fact that we have already filed our memorial before the arbitral tribunal,” the spokesperson said.
“We continue to push for the Code of Conduct,” she added.