MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday expressed concern over Pentagon’s report that China may bring nuclear power in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
“We’re concerned about the entry of any and all nuclear weapons into the Philippine territory because our Constitution provides that we are a nuclear-free zone,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said when asked for comment during a Palace press briefing.
Roque said even an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) treaty declared that the whole ASEAN should be a nuclear-free zone.
He said the nuclear-free policy should be observed by all countries.
“We are concerned about the possibility that any foreign power, be it America, Russia, China may bring nuclear warheads into our territory and into ASEAN which is declared as nuclear-free zone,” he said.
Roque, however, said it is not for the Philippines to verify the “US observation”.
“That is a US observation. We are not in a position to verify that. As you correctly said, it is even in the nature of speculation. It is a possibility, according to the American sources. So we leave it at that,” he said.
China has denied the US report which it called “total disregard of facts, makes presumptuous and irresponsible comments on China’s national defense development”.
“China stays committed to a peaceful development path and follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a press statement on August 18.
“It is always a builder of world peace, contributor to global development and defender of international order,” he added.
The Chinese official said their national defense development aims to safeguard its national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, “which is the lawful rights for a sovereign state to exercise”. Jelly Musico/PNA – northboundasia.com