Philippines not Powerful Enough to Stop Chinese Activities on Scarborough Shoal: Duterte
Philippine is too weak to stop China from constructing structures on the Scarborough Shoal, the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday. Duterte's blunt message comes amid increasing pressure on his government to stop China's fresh construction activities on Scarborough Shoal, also popularly known as Panatag shoal.
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"We cannot stop China from doing this thing," Duterte told reporters at the Davao International Airport before leaving for a two day tour to Myanmar.
The Filipino President, who is known for his straight talks, candidly claimed that Philippines simply do not possess the military capability to stop China's aggressive policies on the disputed South China Sea region.
"So what do you want me to do? Declare war against China?" Duterte asked frustratingly to reporters. "I can but we'll lose all our military and policemen tomorrow, and we are a destroyed nation. And we cannot assert even a single sentence of any provision that we signed."
However, Duterte also sought to assuage the Philippine people by promising that he will ensure Manila enjoys navigation of freedom not just in Scarborough Shoal but also in Benham Rise. Further, the Filipino leader said that he will invoke last year's historic international arbitration court's ruling with China at the right time.
China Plans Monitoring Station on Scarborough Shoal
The latest tension between Beijing and Manila started last week after the mayor of Sansha City revealed that Chinese government is planning to construct an environmental monitoring station on the Scarborough Shoal.
The news immediately drew sharp criticism from Philippine's Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who expressed fear that China will use the monitoring station for military purposes to reassert its claim over the entire South China Sea region.
"A radar station on Scarborough Shoal will immediately complete China's radar coverage of the entire South China Sea. China can then impose an ADIZ or air defence identification zone," Carpio said.
He pointed out that China has already built radar stations in Subi Reef, Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef that allegedly house missile batteries.
The news about China's planned construction of monitoring station was preceded by Filipino defence minister's recent startling revelation that Chinese ships were spotted in Benham Rise and also in one of its administered regions in disputed South China Sea.
The Scarborough Shoal is one of many shoals and islands jointly claimed by China and Philippines in the highly contagious region of South China Sea. The Shoal was claimed by China following prolong military stand-off with Manila in 2012.