Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. on Thursday dared China to prove its allegation that the Philippines has reclamation activities in some areas in the West Philippine Sea.
In an interview with reporters after the Balikatan Exercises closing ceremony, Catapang denied China’s allegations, saying the Philippine government respects the rule set by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
“We are not doing anything inside the areas that we control,” he said. “We are just maintaining the area and we could have easily repaired our runway but we await for the decision of the ITLOS before we can decide what the next move will be or develop our controlled areas in the West Philippine Sea.”
He said to prove its allegation, China should show photos of the areas where it claims the Philippines has been conducting reclamation activities.
“If the Chinese can show pictures that we are also developing our area, they can show it,” he said. “But as of now, I’m sure we are not doing anything in the area, we are just maintaining our presence.”
Last April 20, Catapang showed pictures of Chinese reclamation in disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea.
An earlier Reuters report quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei as saying Philippines and other claimant countries in the South China Sea have been doing reclamation work in the disputed areas.