Duterte admin opts to ‘set aside’ critical issues on maritime row, avoid upsetting China
Malacañang has maintained its position not to antagonize China, as it chose to set aside contentious issues over Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea.
“We will move on issues we can agree upon and set aside contentious issues for now,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.
Roque’s statement came as China lands bomber planes in the South China Sea and deployed missiles in Philippine-claimed reefs in the West Philippines Sea.
Roque said recent developments in the South China Sea should not come as a surprise.
“Ang perspektibo ng Malacañang ay wala pong bago dito, lahat po ‘yan nangyari na, parte na po ‘yan ng kasaysayan,” he said.
China, he said, reclaimed the disputed sea to convert it into a military base.
“Bakit po sila nag-reclaim? Gagamitin po nilang base militar ‘yun,” he said.
“Marami pong developments diyan sa mga isla na yan pero sa mula’t-mula po noong sila ay nag-reclaim diyan, tingin ko alam na natin gagagwin nila ‘yang mga base militar. Malinaw po ‘yan ‘di nila gagawing tourist attraction ‘yan at kinakailangan sa kanila, sa perspektibo ng mga Tsino, eh gagamitin nila ‘yan para depensahan ang sarili nila kasi mga Amerikano naman nandoon ‘yung aircraft carrier.”
“So. sa amin hindi po bago ‘yan, hindi po natin ‘yan kinokonsinti. Iyan po ay dahilan kung bakit tayo ay naaabala rin pero ang paulit-ulit na sinasabi natin ay dalawa ang opsyon natin, i-antagonize muli ang China or panindigan na hindi natin ipamimigay ang teritoryo,” he added.
Relations between the Philippines and Beijing turned-sour after the administration of former president Benigno S. Aquino III challenged China on its expansive claims in the disputed waterway.
On July 12, 2016, the United Nation’s arbitral tribunal invalidated China’s claims, which gave the Philippines a landmark victory on its maritime dispute with Beijing.
The Duterte administration, however, has taken a soft-approach in dealing with China.
But Roque said the government has been exhausting diplomatic means to address the issue.
“Hindi ko po maintindihan kasi ang assumption niyo wala tayong ginagawa. Meron nga po hindi lang inaanunsyo. ‘Yan po yung deklarasyon ng DFA,” he said. /kga
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