PHILIPPINES President Rodrigo Duterte has been ordered to protect three reefs the country claims in the disputed South China Sea.
The Supreme Court order has been enforced directing government agencies to protects reeds and marine life in Scarborough Shoal, Second Thomas Shoal and Mischief Reef. The order is suspected to “sour” the relationship between the Philippines and China, according to an expert. President Duterte previously hit out at Beijing for harvesting in the area.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement: “Our coast guard, as well as other government agencies, are performing their task in securing the subject of the writ.”
The writ under local law in the Philippines is to protect a citizen’s constitutional right to a “healthy environment”, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Mr Panelo added: “We take exception, however, to the contention that there has been inaction on the part of the administration with regard to the environmental concerns brought about by Chinese activities in the contested areas.
“We are consciously cautious not to perform provocative acts that may trigger armed hostilities between the contesting countries, which may risk the lives of our countrymen and cause irreparable damage to our land.”