Concrete blocks in Scarborough don't pose threats - PNoy
MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III said there is no need to remove the concrete blocks allegedly placed by Chinese ships within the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
Aquino told members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) Wednesday that the concrete blocks sighted by the Philippine Navy months back “are very old concrete blocks. It’s not a new phenomenon. They don’t seem to give a reason for an increase in anxiety.”
He said the concrete blocks were in a shallow portion of the area. “If it does not present any danger to shipping, there is no need to remove.”
The Department of National Defense earlier said a Philippine Navy plane spotted at least 30 concrete blocks at the northern part of the shoal during an aerial patrol. Officials said the concrete blocks could be in preparation for construction in the area.
The 75 concrete blocks were located 124 nautical miles off Zambales, which is within the country's exclusive economic zone.
Meanwhile, Aquino highlighted the fact that there are now discussions on the formulation of a Code of Conduct between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in order to settle the territorial disputes.
“Everyone has to show cooperation in drafting the COC,” he said. Earlier, the United States and Japan also urged the nations to finally come up with a COC.
“We are elated that finally there is the start of the discussions on the formulation of the COC,” Aquino said.
The country also earlier brought to an arbitral panel its claim over the South China Sea. China has refused to join in the proceedings.