China to build on Scarborough Shoal? SC Justice Carpio calls for PH action

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Is it Scarborough Shoal's turn?

After previous constructions in several parts of the South China Sea, China reportedly plans to start building on the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal, this year.

China plans to build environmental monitoring stations on a number of islands, including the Scarborough, according to a Reuters report quoting Sansha City Mayor Xiao Jie. Sansha is the youngest city in China and is located on disputed Woody Island in the South China Sea.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in a statement said the government is still seeking clarifications from Chinese officials on the matter.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Saturday called the Philippine government into action amid what he sees as the Chinese government's move to "grab" the disputed waters.

"These developments call for a national debate, and consensus, on how the nation should proceed with its bilateral relations with China," Carpio said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has pursued to rekindle diplomatic ties with China, even opting to "set aside" the international arbitral tribunal ruling in favor of the Philippines in its maritime case against China.

READ: What you need to know about the Arbitral Tribunal's ruling

But Carpio said the installation of "radar stations" in Scarborough "will immediately complete China's radar coverage of the entire South China Sea."

Carpio added, China will use its military installations to enforce its "nine-dash line," which is China's purported historical boundary that covers about 85 percent of the South China Sea, including 80 percent of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.

He added, China already installed a radar weather station on Fiery Cross Reef in 1987, only to eventually turn it into a 270-hectare naval air station.

In recent history, China in 2014 began massive dredging operations in seven reefs in the Spratly Islands -- Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, Mischief Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef, Hughes Reef, and Johnson South Reef.

Satellite images showed construction of buildings, airstrip, radar facilities and artificial islands.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay earlier said Chinese President Xi Jinping told Duterte China will not reclaim or build structures on Scarborough Shoal.

Also read: China promised not to reclaim Scarborough Shoal — Yasay

But Yasay went on to reveal that intelligence reports showed China indeed planned to turn the shoal into a garrison, but China has denied these plans ever existed.

Scarborough Shoal lies 119 nautical miles (220 kilometers) west of Masinloc, Zambales.

CNN Philippines' Eimor P. Santos, Anjo Alimario, and JC Gotinga contributed to this report.