DND chief: China’s placement of weapons in disputed Spratlys ‘very troubling’

MANILA -- Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday said People's Republic of China's action to place weapons in the disputed Spratlys are "very troubling" and that the Philippines will be remiss in its duty to protect its national interest if it does not question them.

This after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed a note verbale regarding the installation of weapons on some of man-made islands in the disputed territory.

Earlier, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said that it has monitored the construction of hexagonal buildings in Fiery Cross, Mischief Reef, and Subi Reef, areas where China constructed artificial islands, and these facilities seemed fitting with anti-aircraft guns and other weapons capable of shooting down aircraft or even cruise missiles.

On the same artificial islands, China also constructed airfield capable of handling and supporting large military aircraft.

"Notwithstanding the warming of relations between our countries, the Philippine Government would be remiss in its duty to protect its national interest if it does not protest, question and seek clarification from China on the presence of weapons in the Spratlys specially so that some of those reclaimed islands are within the Philippine EEZ (exclusive economic zone) according to UNCLOS, which China is a signatory and affirmed by the PCA ruling of July 12, 2016," he noted.

"They (putting of weapons in Spratlys) do not square with the Chinese government's rhetoric that its purpose is peaceful and friendly," he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency