FOREIGN Affairs on Wednesday confirmed it has filed another note verbale against China asking it to explain its plan to install a radar station in the resource-rich Panatag or Scarborough Shoal.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said they handed over the diplomatic protest to the Chinese Embassy and that they were still waiting for the response of its Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua.
“We have sought clarification from China on the reported plans on Scarborough Shoal...We handed the note to Chinese Embassy yesterday [Tuesday],” Jose said.
He made his statement even as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Wednesday denied the reports that China will begin installing a radar station in Scarborough Shoal.
“According to the relevant bodies in China, the reports you mention that touch upon...Scarborough Shoal are not true,” Hua said.
She said China was for “the preservation of the South China Sea’s ocean ecology.”
The Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc sits within the 200 nautical miles of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone where China is firmly claiming ownership of it despite Manila’s victorious case in the Arbitral Tribunal.
Last week, the state-owned Hainan Daily newspaper, reported that China plans to build the first environmental monitoring station in the Panatag Shoal off the coast of Zambales province in the Philippines.
Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie said in a report that the preparatory work on the stations and others on five other islands in the strategically vital waterway was among China’s top priorities for 2017.
Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio, one of the members of the Philippine legal team during the arbitration proceedings against China, has previously expressed alarm over the Chinese plan.
He fears that allowing China to install radar in the Scarborough Shoal would give Beijing total control of the South China Sea.
The former permanent representative to the United Nations for the Philippines Lauro Baja Jr. seconded Carpio and urged President Rodrigo Duterte to object “most vigorously” against China’s plan.
Baja said this might be another of China’s “mischief” moves in which Beijing made Manila believe it was only “building fishermen’s shelters” but eventually occupied and built structures on Mischief Reef.
“We must object most vigorously against such plan,” Baja said.
“This may be another mischief from China. Remember that they said that they are only building “fishermen’s shelter when they occupied and built structures in Mischief Reef and now fortified it.”
Baja reminded China of the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that Panatag Shoal is a traditional fishing area.
Prior to the latest note verbale, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China for deploying survey ships in Benham Rise that lies in the eastern part of the Philippines on the Pacific Ocean, where there is no island or country nearby.
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