Esperon says China '' in position" of disputed waters in West Philippine Sea
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon clarified President Rodrigo Duterte's statement on the West Philippine Sea saying China is "in possession" of the disputed waters.
Duterte, in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, said China claims property on the disputed waters and is "in possession."
"That's the problem. They are in possession and claiming all the resources there as an owner. We are claiming the same but we are not in position," Duterte said.
However, Esperon said in a press conference on Tuesday there was a misunderstanding on Duterte's remark.
"I think the president did not say that they are in possession, but they are in position," Esperon said.
"Admittedly, China has built up islands in the West Philippine Sea and in the South China Sea starting from 2012 and 2016 up to now. But the construction of the islands themselves were completed as of 2016 so they are in position in such islands," he added.
Esperon said the construction in the disputed islands and waters gives China ''big advantage'' over it.
"They have big advantage because they have naval ports in four other islands that were artificial. They have airports that are three kilometers long. They have positional advantage right now and they have equipment to enforce their position," he explained
Lorenzana backed Esperon saying China cannot be in possession of the disputed waters.
"They are not in possession because we are also claiming it," Lorenzana said. Cristina Eloisa Baclig/DMS