From the Philippine Information Agency (May 15): Multilateral discussion needed to deal with Chinese construction in Mabini reef, Palace says
A multilateral discussion is needed to deal with China’s reclamation project at the Mabini Reef in the West Philippine Sea, Malacanang said Wednesday.
The Department of National Defense has confirmed that China is carrying out “reclamation or earthmoving activities” at the Mabini Reef, also known as the Johnson Reef.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing that Vietnam also has a claim on the reef, hence the need for a multilateral discussion rather than a bilateral dialogue.
“The President has always said that we prefer a multilateral dialogue consistent with international law, and consistent with the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, where there has been an emphasis on the provisions on not escalating any further tensions and not disrupting the status quo,” Lacierda said.
He emphasized that “we do not want to escalate any tension” between China and the Philippines.
Any activity in the disputed territory will be seen as a violation of the declaration, which was signed by China and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Cambodia back in November 2002.
According to the DOC, “the Parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.”