MALACAÑANG on Saturday, January 13, sees no reason to question China's principle of "good faith" in its commitment to refrain from making new artificial islands in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In a press conference in Cebu City, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government was confident that China would uphold its obligation not to conduct any land reclamation in the contested waters.
"The general thrust is to rely on the principle of good faith. The scope of this principle of good faith is in China's commitment not to reclaim new areas or not to build new artificial islands," he said.
"And so far, we believe that there has not been any reason why we should doubt China's good faith on its commitment to desist from making new reclamation or from building new islands," he added.
Roque's remarks came after his recent conflicting statement with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who earlier said that the Philippines will file a diplomatic protest against China for reneging on its promise not to militarize islands in the South China Sea.
Lorenzana's pronouncement was in contrary with Roque's statement on January 9 that "there is still no breach of the good faith obligation, for as long as China has not embarked on new reclamations."
Their statements stemmed from reports that China has transformed Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef into a 2.8-square-kilometer fortified airbase that features a 3,125-kilometer runway for H-6K strategic bombers.
China's artificial military base at Kagitingan Reef also purportedly has a hospital and military facilities, including early warning radars and close-proximity weapons systems.
Lorenzana had said China's complete build-up was a violation of their promise not to further militarize reclaimed islands.
"If it is true and we can prove that they have been putting soldiers and even weapons systems, that will be a violation of what they said," the Defense Chief earlier said. (SunStar Philippines)