Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque admitted that the government does not yet have the technology to verify China's deployment of missiles in the Spratly Islands.
Presidential photo/Yancy Lim
'To verify' or 'can't verify?' Malacañang shifts rhetoric on Chinese missiles
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - May 8, 2018 - 10:49am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government appears to have conflicting statements on its capacity to verify China's deployment of missile systems on its outposts in the Spratly Islands.

Last week, American network CNBC 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.

Beijing already confirmed such deployment and insisted that the weapons were installed to safeguard the country's sovereignty and security.

READ: Philippines still verifying missiles in Spratlys amid China's confirmation | 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," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

The Philippines' initial response, on the other hand, was to verify the report.

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

On Monday, Malacañang admitted that the government does not have the technology to verify Beijing's deployment of missiles, which the latter had earlier confirmed.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Philippine government needs to verify the report firsthand.

RELATED: Philippines acquiring technology to verify China missile deployment

"Well I had a talk with the security — National Security Adviser (Germogenes Esperon) and he told me that there’s a technology that we need that we still don’t have to be able to verify it for ourselves. Now, I understand that we could get information from third party resources but that would not be first party verification," Roque said in a press briefing.

The government is waiting for the delivery of the technology that would allow the verification of Beijing's deployment of weapons in the country's exclusive economic zone.

"He (Esperon) mentioned it. He says that we are awaiting delivery, but we don’t have that capacity, yet," Roque said.

Roque insisted on China's promise that it will not construct new facilities on the South China Sea features.

He added that the Department of Foreign Affairs will exercise all diplomatic initiatives to address China's actions in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

"Again, the fact that we are publicizing what we are doing. Let me remind you that it is an accepted exception to freedom of information – diplomatic conversations and initiatives," Roque said.

SOUTH CHINA SEA SPRATLY ISLANDS WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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