Palace: PH to raise presence of bombers in disputed waters with China

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — Even if the Palace said the presence of Chinese bombers in South China Sea poses no threat to national security, it will bring the matter up with the eastern giant soon.

"And like the other issues that have been reported by a major daily, we will bring this issue again in the bilateral mechanism that we have agreed upon with China," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday.

The Bilateral Consultative Mechanism (BCM) is a biannual meeting between working-level officials from both China and the Philippines to raise their concerns on the maritime dispute. The first BCM was in May 2017, and the second one was held in February this year.

Roque said there is a scheduled BCM this year, possibly in June.

Meanwhile, Roque also added the Philippines is one with the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in its calls to stop militarizing the area.

"We also would like to highlight an ASEAN declaration or statement that was adopted in the recent (summit) in Singapore. And this reiterates the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would further complicate the situation in the West Philippine Sea," he said.

The Presidential Spokesperson added while the Philippines has no independent verification of the report, it takes the reports seriously.

"Hindi naman po natin binabalewala. As the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) said, hindi naman pupwede na lahat ng issue on foreign relations ay nag-iingay tayo," he said.

[Translation:We are not dismissing the reports. As the DFA said, we don't have to announce all our courses of action on foreign relations.]

Former DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario, meanwhile, is urging the public to help the President.

In a statement released Monday, del Rosario said, "Our government needs to listen to its people. Our northern neighbor needs to listen to the Filipino people. And finally, all our traditional partners and friends – who are waiting for a united voice – need to hear from us."

Del Rosario said Filipinos must help Duterte see that Filipinos are willing to "make the supreme sacrifice" for the country should it be needed.

"Let us therefore, respectfully convey to our president that we eagerly await his inspirational leadership by doing what is right," he said.

READ MORE: Duterte asserts arbitral ruling on South China Sea not during his term

The DFA earlier said it is monitoring developments on Woody Island, part of the disputed Paracel chain in the South China Sea.

READ MORE: Senator seeks PH action on China's threat of 'nuclear war'

U.S. still an ally

Roque also responded to reports of Philippine officials in Hawaii to meet with the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) on Saturday.

"I can only surmise that the visit is intended to reassure the United States that while we are pursuing an independent foreign policy, we have not abandoned our traditional ally," Roque said.

A delegation led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had discussions with U.S. PACOM Chief Admiral Harry Harris Jr., where they talked about the maritime dispute.

The Presidential Spokesperson, however, said the Philippines must not depend on the United States to defend its sovereign rights over its territories.

"Ang Estados Unidos naman, pagdating sa mga pinag-aagawang mga isla, ang palaging punto de vista, ay hindi sila makikialam sa agawan ng teritoryo," he said.

[Translation: The United States when it comes to contested islands will opt to not interference in conflicting territorial claims.]

The United States has repeatedly raised concerns over the alleged military activities in the South China Sea, going as far as sending its destroyers there in March.

READ: U.S. destroyer sails close to contested island in South China Sea