Right to protest Chinese ‘rescue hub’ in SCS if verified: DFA

MANILA -- Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Saturday agreed that the Philippines should protest the construction of a maritime rescue center in the contested South China Sea (SCS) once verified by relevant offices in the country.

Locsin said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will await official assessment from National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon as he declined to acknowledge the report of China's state news agency Xinhua on the hub's establishment at the Kagitingan Reef in the Kalayaan Island Group.

"And we will (protest). I however preferred engaging them openly on the floor of the UN (United Nations) General Assembly," he said in a tweet on his official account.

Locsin was responding to an earlier statement from Senior Justice Associate Antonio Carpio who urged the government to protest China's newest construction in the Philippine-claimed reef.

"Agree totally. We can thank China after it raises the Philippine flag over there -- as a start. Nothing more; no statement; nothing; just raise the flag," Locsin said. "Meanwhile, (I) asked Task Force for its real assessment of the situation."

In a separate comment, Locsin also noted the administration is obedient in filing a note verbale every time China builds in the disputed area.

"Senior Associate Justice Carpio, we're doing that; 18 or 19 so far. No fanfare though; (the) protest is intended for the Chinese not for hysterics in Manila who, sadly, are not foreigners but good God Filipinos so no need to (furnish a copy of) protest to them. It gets in the way of diplomacy," he said.

Xinhua, citing China's Ministry of Transport, said Beijing opened on Tuesday a maritime rescue center in Yongshu reef (Kagitingan reef) "to better protect navigation and transport safety in the South China Sea." (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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