DAVAO CITY – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday said he cannot stop Beijing from building any structure on the disputed Panatag Shoal (international name Scarborough Shoal) off the coast of the western Luzon province of Zambales.
This, after Beijing will reportedly set up an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal, which is being claimed by the Philippines but was seized by China in 2012. Before the seizure, it was a common fishing ground for Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen.
The shoal is located just 230 kilometers west of Luzon and in the northern part of the South China Sea so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other foreign navies from plying or using the waters.
During a press conference before he left for a two-day visit of Myanmar yesterday, Duterte said, “we cannot stop China from doing those things. Even the Americans could not stop them. What do you want me to do? Declare war against China? I can’t. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we (will be) a destroyed nation.”
Instead of going to war against Beijing, Duterte said he will tell China to just keep the South China Sea open and not to interfere with the Philippine Coast Guard.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), for its part, is verifying a report by the Chinese newspaper Hainan Daily that quoted Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie as saying that Beijing is preparing to build an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal. GAC/Expat Media
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