"We're taking it seriously, we're verifying the information," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on China's deployment of missile system in the Spratly Islands.
KJ Rosales, File
Philippines still verifying missiles in Spratlys amid China's confirmation
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - May 4, 2018 - 12:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government is still verifying reports that China has quietly deployed missile system in the Spratly Islands. But Beijing has already confirmed this.

"We're taking it seriously, we're verifying the information," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday.

CNBC earlier reported that China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on three Manila-claimed reefs in the area—Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the deployment of defense facilities in its "big three" islands was meant to safeguard China's sovereignty and security.

READ: China: Missiles in Spratlys target no one

"The relevant deployment targets no one. Anyone with no invasive intention will find no reason to worry about this. We hope that the relevant party could view this matter in an objective and calm way," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

Echoing China and President Rodrigo Duterte's previous remarks, Cayetano said that the missiles were "not directed against us."

Cayetano stressed that the Philippines would "take every diplomatic action to protect our interest."

However, solving the South China Sea dispute would have to involve discussion among all claimants and non-regional players.

"We are also aware that there has to be talks between all claimants and non-regional players. You cannot just tell China, 'Bawal kayo dito' but 'x' and 'y' are doing this and then non-regional players are doing this," Cayetano said.

Settling the maritime dispute would be a challenge for diplomats, the DFA chief added.

"But we are hopeful with the developments in North Korea and we hope na it will go well, that it will also show the way sa South China Sea, West Philippine Sea that diplomacy can work," he said.

The United States, on the other hand, warned China of possible consequences of its militarization in the South China Sea.

"We’ve raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this.  And there will be near-term and long-term consequences," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO FIERY CROSS REEF MISCHIEF REEF SOUTH CHINA SEA SPRATLY ISLANDS SUBI REEF WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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