From InterAksyon (Nov 24): DFA checking Chinese construction in Philippine-claimed reef
File photo of the Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef), released June 12, 2014.
The Philippine government is verifying reports that China’s construction on a Philippine-claimed reef in the disputed South China Sea is nearly completed.
Reports said Fiery Cross Reef, or Kagitingan Reef in Filipino, has been transformed by China into an artificial island equipped with a landing strip.
“We have to validate that,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.
He said the Philippines has no latest information on the extent of construction in the area.
“We believe it is ongoing,” Del Rosario said.
Philippine officials maintained Kagitingan, which is 257 nautical miles off the nearest point in the Philippine province of Palawan, is part of a cluster of islands, shoals, islets and reefs facing the South China Sea that is called Kalayaan Island Group.
China insists ownership to nearly the entire waters and has ignored calls from the Philippines to stop its ongoing reclamation activity.
In response to Chinese actions, DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippines will push for the full and effective implementation of a non-aggression pact in the South China Sea that China signed with Southeast Asian nations in 2002 and for the early conclusion of a code of conduct among claimants.