Should the PH be concerned about China's plans to build on Scarborough?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Should Filipinos be worried if China were to build a radar facility on Scarborough Shoal?

A defense analyst says such a facility would bring China too close to local shores, while a legal expert says such a move is "not troublesome."

On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte said nothing can be done to stop China's reported plan to build a radar facility on Scarborough Shoal.

He said, " We cannot stop China from doing this thing. Di nga napara ng Amerikano (Even the Americans weren't able to stop it)."

Read: Duterte: We can't stop Chinese structures in Panatag Shoal

Many have criticized Duterte's statement, with a broadsheet calling it "defeatist."

But maritime law expert and former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza says China's planned radar is no cause for alarm.

He said, "This is nothing compared to what China has done already in reclaiming those islands and fortifying them. Those are the troublesome parts."

Mendoza points out, Philippine law includes the Kalayaan Island group and Scarborough Shoal in the country's territory.

And although the President is bound by this law, Mendoza asked if the Philippines was capable of standing up to China.

"Pwede ba tayo maki-giyera (Can we fight them)? You know, one has to be realistic and practical," he said.

According to defense analyst Jose Antonio Custodio, China will probably not stop at just a radar facility.

He said, "That they start out with those reasons (environmental monitoring) and then next thing you know, it turns into a military installation."

Custodio says resisting China is unlikely to spark war because Beijing knows better than to earn the ire of other military powers like the U.S., Japan, India, and Australia.

For instance, Vietnam and Indonesia have spoken strongly against Chinese incursions - but Beijing has not retaliated.

Custodio warns, a Chinese radar on Scarborough shoal is a clear threat to national security.

He said, "We must remember that Scarborough Shoal is only a hundred or so miles away from our centers of gravity...And of course, if it's a radar that they're going to put there, then they can monitor us. They can monitor whatever's going on in the Philippines."

Custodio said the government should clarify and strengthen its stance against security threats because, according to him, if you give bullies a hand, they will take the whole arm.

China: No plans to build radar facility

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, earlier reports about supposed plans by Beijing to build environmental monitoring stations on Scarborough Shoal are mistaken.

She said, "With regards to Scarborough Shoal, China's position is consistent and clear. We place great importance on China-Philippines relations."

But Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the government has handed a note verbale to the Chinese Embassy and they expect a response in black-and-white.

Clarifications sought

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella earlier said the government is still seeking clarifications from Chinese officials on the issue of China allegedly planning to build on Scarborough Shoal.

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

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Saturday called on the Philippine government to take 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.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also said the country would wait for an explanation from China before taking action.

Read: PH awaiting China's clarification on Scarborough before making any move - DFA

Pending verification, Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said the government is "maintaining a regular and close watch" over Scarborough Shoal, one of the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea.

CNN Philippines' JC Gotinga and Eimor Santos contributed to this report