Philippines: Malacañang shifts rhetoric on Chinese missiles

  • The Philippine government appears to have conflicting statements on its capacity to verify China’s deployment of missile systems on its outposts in the Spratly Islands.
  • Last week, American network CNBC reported that China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on three Manila-claimed reefs in the area—Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef.
  • Beijing already confirmed such deployment and insisted that the weapons were installed to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and security.
  • “The relevant deployment targets no one. Anyone with no invasive intention will find no reason to worry about this,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
  • The Philippines’ initial response, on the other hand, was to verify the report. “We’re taking it seriously, we’re verifying the information,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.
  • On 7 May 18, Malacañang admitted that the government does not have the technology to verify Beijing’s deployment of missiles, which the latter had earlier confirmed.
  • Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Philippine government needs to verify the report first-hand.
  • “Well I had a talk with the security – National Security Adviser (Germogenes Esperon) and he told me that there’s a technology that we need that we still don’t have to be able to verify it for ourselves. Now, I understand that we could get information from third party resources but that would not be first party verification,” Roque said in a press briefing.
  • The government is waiting for the delivery of the technology that would allow the verification of Beijing’s deployment of weapons in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
  • Roque insisted on China’s promise that it will not construct new facilities on the South China Sea features. He added that the Department of Foreign Affairs will exercise all diplomatic initiatives to address China’s actions in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

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