President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday admitted knowing about China's militarization in the South China Sea, including areas that belong to the Philippines.
Duterte indicated that he saw no need to question the deployment of China's air assets to Manila-claimed reefs.
"There is an airport. There are missiles there installed. There are military equipment already in place. So what's the point of questioning whether the planes land there or not? There's an airstrip," Duterte said.
"Gusto mo giyerahin? Sino ba may gusto? Kasi, sige, payag ako. I can declare war on China tonight but sino ang magpunta? Sundalo ko? Pulis ko? Mamatay lang lahat ‘yan. Why will I go to war for a battle that I cannot win? Para akong gago," he added.
"So sino ‘yung mga gustong pumunta doon ngayon. Okay man ako. We will declare war against China. Provided ‘yung mga ugok, ‘yung maingay mauna sila. Nandiyan ako sa likod nila. Pagdating doon iwanan ko sila. Bahala kayo, eh kayo ‘yung gusto makipag away."
US news network CNBC recently reported that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its outposts in the South China Sea.
It cited sources with direct knowledge of US intelligence reports.
CNBC quoted unnamed sources as saying that according to US intelligence assessments, the missiles were moved to the Philippines' Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef within the past 30 days.
The US Defense Department, which opposes China's installation of military facilities on outposts it has built up in the South China Sea, declined comment.
American think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), meanwhile, published photos taken on April 28 showing China has deployed a military aircraft to Subi Reef.
According to AMTI, the Shaanxi Y-8 was designed as a military transport aircraft, "but some variants are used for maritime patrol or signals intelligence."
Supreme Court Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said the Philippines should protest China's installation of missile systems on the three reefs in the West Philippine Sea.
"At the very least the Philippine Government must officially protest China's installation of missiles on these artificial islands. This is necessary to preserve the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Philippines over these areas," Carpio said in a statement.
He said China had reneged on President Xi Jinping's promise not to militarize its artificial islands in the Spratlys.
"In 2015, President Xi Jinping promised President (Barack) Obama that China would not militarize its artifical islands in the Spratlys. China has just broken that promise by installing long-range anti-ship cruise and anti-aircraft missiles on these artificial islands," Carpio said. —NB/JST/BAP, GMA News