Duterte wants ‘peaceful resolution’ to rift over Julian Felipe Reef – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants the issue of Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef to be resolved through peaceful means, counting on the now closer ties between the Philippines and China, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President’s stance asserting the Philippines’ rights over the maritime territory remains but that this particular incident at Julian Felipe Reef should not be a reason to use “force” against China.
“Ang position po ng Presidente, paninindigan natin ang karapatan pero hindi po ito isang bagay para tayo po ay gumamit ng dahas. Kampante po ang ating Presidente na dahil nga po mayroon tayong malapit na pagkakaibigan, mariresolba itong hidwaang na ito,” Roque said in an online briefing.
(The President’s position is that we will maintain our rights over the waters but this is not something to be addressed with force. The President is confident that because we have a close friendship, we will resolve this issue.)
“We will not give up even a single inch of our national territory or our exclusive economic zone. And we hope that the friendly relations will result in [a] peaceful resolution of this latest impasse.”
“Malinaw po ang sinasabi ng Presidente, meron po tayong malapit na pagkakaibigan, hindi po dahilan itong mga fishing vessels para tayo po ay magka-giyera. We will resolve this peacefully,” he went on.
(What the President said was clear, we have a close friendship so these fishing vessels are not a reason for war. We will resolve this peacefully.)
But a Duterte alter ego, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, believes the vessels at Julain Felipe Reef are Chinese militias. Lorenzana even called on China to withdraw the vessels in the West Philippine Sea, but China insisted that the reef was part of its Nansha Islands which, it claimed, has been a “traditional fishing ground” for many years.
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs has also warned China that it risks facing a slew of diplomatic protests for every single day it fails to withdraw its vessels in the West Philippine Sea.
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