This March 11, 2017 satellite image shows China's hardened shelters with retractable roofs for mobile missile launchers on Mischief Reef, which is well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
AMTI/CSIS via DigitalGlobe, File
China's missiles technically directed at everyone — Hilbay
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - May 8, 2018 - 12:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — Contrary to the government's assurances that Beijing's weapons on the Spratly Islands are not directed to the Philippines, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay stressed that the missiles are technically directed at everyone.

Hilbay, in a television interview, said that it was false to say that the missile system of China was not directed at the Philippines, the closest country where the weapons are installed.

"It’s technically directed at everyone within the range of that missile system and we’re nearest to the range of that missile system and so it is, in fact, directed at us," Hilbay told ANC's Early Edition on Tuesday.

RELATED: 'To verify' or 'can't verify?' Malacañang shifts rhetoric on Chinese missiles

The former solicitor general also warned that China has a "history of dishonesty" over its actions in the South China Sea.

China's militarization activities in the area are well within the Philippines' backyard as Mischief Reef, one of Beijing's "big three" islands, is within Manila's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

"When China started reclaiming or took over those areas and the started building an island, they said that this was for civilian purposes, non-military, this was for weather purposes, for the protection of the fishermen. Now you realize that they have militarized the area," Hilbay said.

He added that China has no right to reclaim and militarize Mischief Reef as it is part of the country's EEZ, as ruled upon by the United Nations-backed tribunal in the Philippines versus China arbitration.

Considering the matter as a geopolitical issue is also a wrong characterization of the problem as it places the Philippines in an area of weakness.

"Our area of strength is legal precisely because we have won the case and so even before we go to the geopolitical aspects of the problem we should always keep in mind that there is a legal advantage that we have here," Hilbay said.

Hilbay pointed out that the Senate and the House of Representatives should continue its investigations into the matter.

The government ought to inform the public on what is going on given the extent of China's militarization and its potential effect to the country and the Filipino people.

"The government is not doing anything. If at all it's stepping back, stepped back over and over again and we now know for a fact that the policy of total friendliness is not work to our advantage," Hilbay said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang had admitted that the government does not have the technology to verify China's installation of missile systems in the Spratly Islands.

"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," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Beijing, on the other hand, already confirmed this and insisted that the deployments were not directed at anyone.

"The relevant deployment targets no one. Anyone with no invasive intention will find no reason to worry about this," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

FLORIN HILBAY MISCHIEF REEF SOUTH CHINA SEA SPRATLY ISLANDS WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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