Duterte Pushes Chinese Firm Building Artificial Islands to Develop Sangley Airport
President Duterte supports Chinese companies blacklisted by the United States for investment projects in the Philippines. Malacanang says the country cannot cancel the deal.
A U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer sails the South China Sea to defend a free and open Indo Pacific region. MC3 Andrew Langholf, U.S. Navy
The Malacanang Palace said yesterday, that the Philippines should set aside unresolved issues in the South China Sea and pursue investment projects with Chinese firms since the arbitral ruling has upheld Manila's sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone (E.E.Z.).
President Rodrigo Duterte is supporting Chinese rules to continue building investment projects in the Philippines. One of which is the development of Sangley Airport. The project will be built by a Chinese firm who is also creating artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea. The People's Liberation Army (P.L.A.) deployed warships, armaments and other weaponry on those islands.
The sovereignty of the Philippines have been threatened for years, and is a party to the South China Sea row. Although, Mr. Duterte has refused to follow the United States' lead in banning trade with Chinese companies that helped build artificial islands in disputed waters.
Mr. Duterte chooses Chinese companies over national security as he said that the Philippines is in need to finish infrastructure projects and partially disregard the South China Sea issue. "We will pursue the national interest and the national interest dictates that we finish the flagship projects of the Build, Build, Build and therefore he will not follow the footsteps of the Americans," says Malacanang.
China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (C.C.C.C.), a Chinese company blacklisted by the United States will handle the P208 billion development of Sangley Airport in Cavite. The airport is not far from military bases of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force, sparking more security issues.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the South China Sea issue between South East Asian (S.E.A.) countries and Communist China cannot be resolved within their lifetime. "Well you know, there is already a decision there that the Philippines has sovereign rights where they built the artificial islands and that means that whoever built those artificial islands had no legal basis to do; and we’re satisfied with the decision."
"For as long as that decision stands, we can proceed forward on matters that we think we can push on such as trade and investment and meanwhile set aside matters that we cannot resolve perhaps in our lifetime," Mr. Roque said.
China has built artificial islands on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi), Burgos (Gaven), Kennan (Hughes), Mabini (Johnson South) and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reefs, areas located off the coast of Palawan that are also part of the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (E.E.Z.) of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. backtracked yesterday after earlier recommending the termination of contracts with Chinese companies involved in South China Sea reclamation, agreeing with President Duterte that the matter was a sovereign choice.
The Philippines is currently trapped to China as it cannot cancel or terminate investment projects to be built in the country. "If we break a contract, we get sued abroad. Happened even with anomalous North Rail contract. We lost the case I believe," Mr. Locsin said.