If true, Panelo says he sees nothing wrong with China building maritime center on disputed Kagitingan Reef

(Eagle News) — Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday, Jan. 31, said he does not see anything wrong with China building a maritime rescue center in Fiery Cross Reef, one of the features claimed by the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea, if this was indeed true.

Panelo agreed with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the center, after all, could provide relief to “everybody” in distress.

“Kung alam natin na wala namang makakasira doon sa claim natin at tutulong sila sa lahat ng mga nangangailangan ng tulong. Eh dapat nagpapasalamat tayo,” Panelo said.

“Maybe we should be thankful,” he added.

He gave the assurance the government would always protest “anything that intrudes into our sovereignty.”

According to state-run news agency Xinhua, the center was established to “better protect navigation and transport safety.”

Since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016, the Philippines’ relations with China have improved, with the chief executive adopting a less hard stance than his predecessor.