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Manila trusts China’s good faith on SCS

By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Malacañang has said that the government continues to trust China’s good faith in its commitment to not reclaim any islands or build infrastructures in the disputed portions of the South China Sea.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press briefing in Cebu City Saturday, said the Philippines will continue to rely on China’s good faith on the South China Sea which has seven countries claiming portions of it as part of their national territory.

“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,” Roque said.

“And so far, we believe there has not been any reason why we should doubt China’s good faith on the building, on its commitment to desist from making new reclamations or from building new islands,” he added.

Last month, it was reported that Beijing has “reasonably” expanded its islands in the South China Sea, noting that its construction projects last 2017 have now covered about 72 acres.

The report added that according to China’s National Marine Data and Information Service, the Asian giant has conducted extensive land reclamation work on some of the islands and reefs it controls in the South China Sea, including building airports, alarming its neighbors and Washington.

Last Christmas Day, Roque said in a text message that the government will trust China since the location of these works is still unknown.

“We don’t know where these works are. We continue to rely on China’s good faith. Location is material since we do not have claims on all the islands and waters in the disputed area,” he noted.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said that the Philippines will file a diplomatic complaint against China for retreating from its promise to not militarize artificial islands in the disputed waters.

President Duterte has set aside the issue of the maritime dispute over the South China Sea to establish a good relationship with China.

However last November, Duterte surprised the world, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, when his view on the disputed waters changed while thanking China for its help in the war in Marawi City.