PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will resolve the dispute in the West Philippine Sea "at a time most fitting and advantageous" to the Filipino people, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella reiterated that the Department of Foreign Affairs is now verifying the reported plan of China to construct an environmental monitoring station on Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
Abella also maintained that the President is not conceding the Philippines' rights over the contested waters, even after an international arbitral tribunal tribunal had upheld the country's rights versus China's claims.
"[Duterte] has repeatedly asserted that [the Philippines] is not giving up its claims and our entitlements over the area," Abella said in a statement.
"He has said time and again that he will defend and protect the interests of the Filipino people, and will take necessary action at a time most fitting and advantageous to us," he added.
The preparations are underway to build an environment monitoring station on Panatag Shoal, Sansha Communist Party Xiao Jie was quoted as saying by Chinese newspaper Hainan Daily.
Duterte, in a pre-departure interview on Sunday, said he cannot stop China's actions in Panatag Shoal.
He said his administration is avoiding to sow rift with Chinese government because it is not ready to wage war against China.
Chinese government ships took control of Panatag Shoal in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels. China then prevented Filipino fishermen to go within the area.
The Philippines raised the maritime dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last 2013 and had subsequently won the case in July 2016, invalidating China's claim over the entire South China Sea.
But Duterte, a newly-elected President then, had said he would not invoke the landmark ruling and instead resort to a diplomatic dialogue with China to address the problem. (SunStar Philippines)