China constructing in West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday, May 14, confirmed China’s ongoing construction on Mabini Reef (Johnson Reef) in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea).

 "There is ongoing reclamation or earthmoving activities in that portion," said DND spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez.

Asked if it involves the construction of an airstrip, Galvez said, "We cannot speculate at this point."

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There are old structures in the area, but Galvez said new construction activities were observed earlier this year.

"Sometime in February, we observed that the structures are getting bigger. We observed this earthmoving activity early this year," he said. 

The Philippine military monitors the disputed territories by air. 

The construction activities is expected to create more tension between the Philippines and China, which are locked in territorial row in the area.  The Philippines had earlier filed a case before an international arbitral court to resolve the dispute.

Construction activities in the disputed territories is a violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and ASEAN member-nations in Cambodia on November 4, 2002.

The DOC states: “The Parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.” – Rappler.com