MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III revealed Thursday that Chinese ships were spotted in other Philippine-claimed areas in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
"'Yung latest na report na natanggap natin, we are again bothered that there seems to be developments in other areas within the disputed seas. Amongst them parang may movement ng ships," he said in an interview after speaking before the Asia-Europe Meeting Manila Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.
Aquino said they were not yet sure if those ships were exactly the same as those used by China in Mabini Reef.
"But there are seems to be similar ships at the very least in a feature called ‘yung — one is Gavin Reef, the other is Cuateron Reef. Cuateron is spelled C-U-A-T-E-R-O-N. That is the international name. Cuateron is called — we call it Calderon. So Cuateron and 'yung Gavin Reef," he said.
China has been building structures at Mabini Reef, which is also being claimed by the Philippines.
"'Yung pictures that I saw were just ships that can be used for reclamation. Pictures pa lang, ano, unlike Mabini na talagang from nothing nagkaroon na ng geographical feature," Aquino said.
The Philippines has brought up its territorial row with China before the United National Arbitral Tribunal, which recently asked Beijing to answer Manila's petition. But China continued to refuse to participate in the arbitration proceedings.
Aquino said it would be up to China if it wants to join or not.
"Inimbita natin sila na pumunta tayo rito para ma-resolve na nga natin na siguradong peaceful way of resolving the dispute. Ngayon, wala naman akong karapatan sigurong magsalita kung bakit ayaw nilang sumama dito sa method na manigurado tayong mapayapa ang pagreresolba ‘nung isyu diyan sa karagatan," he said.
But at least for the Philippines, Aquino said once the international tribunal rules on the matter, there would be enlightenment for everyone.
"So at the very least, ang makukuha natin diyan if they rule in our favor na tama ‘yung ating mga claims, then magkakaliwanagan," he said. (SDR/Sunnex)