Palace refutes Carpio’s Duterte ‘green light’ claim
Malacañang on Saturday refuted the remarks of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, saying President Rodrigo Duterte gave the “green light” to China reclamation with the country’s soft stance on the issue during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in April.
“With all due respect to the Senior Associate Justice, Chinese island-building and military deployment activities on certain features in the West Philippine Sea have been ongoing for some years now,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
In a speech on Friday, Carpio said Duterte gave the green light to China’s massive reclamation in the disputed sea when he failed to mention the territorial dispute in the Asean Chairman Statement during the country’s hosting in April.
“In 2017 we were the host [of the Asean], the president was responsible for the Chairman’s Statement [but made] no mention of reclamation or militarization. For the Chinese this is a green light,” he said.
But Abella said Duterte was employing “two-track strategy” in dealing with the two countries’ maritime dispute.
“President Rodrigo R. Duterte maintains a two-track approach to our relationship with PROC; one, to grow our healthy economic, trade and investment relationships, and to ensure that our arbitral rights in the WPS (West Philippine Sea) are not compromised, more so now through the newly established bilateral consultation mechanism to manage disputes in the area,” he said.
“The disputes in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea are not the sum total of our relations with China, but we are cognizant of the warmer relationships we have in the region,” he added.
The Philippines and China held the inaugural meeting of the bilateral consultative mechanism on Friday in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province to settle the dispute in the South China Sea
During Duterte’s bilateral talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 15, he reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to settle the sea row peacefully.
“It is important to keep our communication lines open. I am pleased that we have established a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea. This is one step forward toward peacefully engaging disputes and I hope the inaugural meeting will be a success,” Duterte told Xi.
Duterte revealed in a speech on Friday that China had threatened war if the Philippines would insist its claim on the South China Sea. IDL
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