From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 31, 2019): DFA to validate China’s maritime rescue center on Kagitingan Reef
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will validate the reported maritime rescue center constructed on Kagitingan reef in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Malacañang said on Thursday.
“Let’s wait for (DFA) Secretary (Teodoro) Locsin (Jr.). He must know something that I do not know or anybody,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
On Jan. 29, Chinese-state run news agency Xinhua reported that China's Ministry of Transport opened a maritime rescue center “to better protect navigation and transport safety” in the WPS or South China Sea.
“We will leave it to the DFA Secretary. We will not be preempting. Always the President’s style is, we’ll leave it to the departments. Because he is friends to all, enemies to none -- that’s the policy,” Panelo said.
“Hindi pa nga natin alam kung talagang may structure doon eh (We don’t even know if there really is a structure there). Right now, we don’t know yet. Kahit nga state media eh, di ba may false news. Paano kung false news pala iyon (Even in state media, there’s false news. What if it’s false news?),” he added,
Panelo said Locsin would be the best person to determine whether there has been “communication” between the governments of the Philippines and China regarding the maritime rescue center.
“If that has been validated, then Secretary Locsin will make his position on the matter, we will leave it to him first. Eh sa ngayon hindi pa naman validated eh (But now, it has not yet been validated),” he added.
Panelo said he saw no problem with the construction of a maritime rescue center if it was done with permission and will not affect the country’s claim over the contested waters.
“I don’t think establishing a distress center is bad…because it will be helping everybody in distress,” Panelo said.
“They didn’t say that they asked permission from the government. I will wait for Secretary Locsin to say something on the matter,” Panelo said.
Panelo said the Palace will give China the benefit of the doubt but assured that that government will protest anything that intrudes into the Philippine sovereignty.
“We will give them the benefit of the doubt. If we, for instance, if we see anything that will be inconsistent with what they are saying,” Panelo said.
“Of course the government will always protest on anything that intrudes into our sovereignty,” he added.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier decided to temporarily shelve an international arbitration court’s verdict that trashed China’s nine-dash line map to give way to friendly bilateral talks between both countries.