Philippines "should be thankful" over Chinese maritime rescue center in Kagitingan Reef: Palace
President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said on Thursday the Philippines ''should be thankful" China opened a maritime rescue center in Kagitingan Reef.
China's Xinhua news agency reported on Jan. 29 that China's Ministry of Transport opened the maritime rescue center, in what it called as Yongshu Reef, to "better protect navigation and transport safety in the South China Sea."
"Maybe we should be thankful. I share the sentiment of (Defense) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that, ‘that could help seamen in distress in that area.’ It can help everybody’," Panelo said in a press briefing.
While he welcomed Chinese establishment of a rescue center in the area, Panelo said this should not affect Manila's claim over the area.
"I don't think so, it will not," he said.
Kagitingan Reef, also known as the Fiery Cross Reef, is outside Manila's 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone but is within the Spratly Islands being claimed by the Philippines.
Panelo said the Palace would leave it to the Department of Foreign Affairs of action to be taken if it is confirmed China established the maritime distress center.
The action could include filing of a diplomatic protest, he said.
"Yes, of course, the government will always protest on anything that intrudes into our sovereignty," said Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel. Celerina Monte/DMS