Duterte using ‘conflict-free’ policy in sea dispute, says Palace
Malacañang on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte was employing a conflict-free strategy in dealing with the country’s maritime dispute with China over the South China Sea, refuting criticisms that the Chief Executive had been weak in pushing for our claim.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella issued the statement after Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the government was not doing enough to press our claims in the disputed sea.
“The President has respect for Justice Carpio and he can assure the justice and the people of the Philippines that the policies of this administration are not only directed in protecting the sovereignty of the republic, they are also directed in ensuring that our nation and our region remains conflict-free,” Abella said in a Palace briefing.
“The President sees those two objectives as complimentary and in the best interest for our country,” he added.
The Palace official said the President and his Cabinet were “working with the governments of all nations with legitimate interest in the South China Sea to ensure that our national interests are protected and the region remains zone of peace.”
“Confrontation does not serve the interest of our country; that’s why we are committed to a process of engagement and negotiation that will ensure that our rights are respected and protected well into the future,” he said.
The Philippines’ current foreign policy with China, he said, has achieved substantive progress in talks in Beijing, reduced tensions, and strengthened our economic cooperation.
The Philippines and China had started a bilateral consultative mechanism in May to discuss the “sensitive” issue of the South China Sea.
During his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bejing in May, Duterte said Xi threatened war if the Philippines insisted on pressing its claims in the South China Sea. JE