Carpio: China won’t listen if Duterte remains silent against West PH Sea incursions
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte should speak up against Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea because Beijing will not listen to his underlings, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Thursday.
Philippine officials, except Duterte, have issued tough statements against Chinese encroachments in the West Philippine Sea, but Carpio said China would only listen to the country’s top leader.
“This is a very important national issue, our sovereign rights and our sovereignty is involved. The President must speak, he must stand up himself because if his subordinates do the talking, China will not listen,” he said.
“Because China will listen only to the leader of the nation. And if the President is silent, then China will continue,” Carpio said.
The lingering presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels at Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef, which is inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), has pushed the Philippine government to file diplomatic protests and send more patrols to the area.
It also led to a verbal tussle between Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the Chinese Embassy in Manila, which had given insulting replies to the Philippine defense chief.
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to express “utmost displeasure” over the continued presence of Chinese vessels inside the Philippines’ EEZ.
But Malacanang appeared to be downplaying the whole incident despite the strongly-worded statements of other agencies involved in the West Philippine Sea, Carpio said, as the presidential spokesperson said that the issue “can be settled among friends.”
“The Chinese will take us seriously if the President will speak, but it doesn’t mean that they will also leave. But they will feel the heat because they will lose a friend if the President will speak,” he added.
Since 2016, Duterte pushed for closer ties with China supposedly in exchange for loans and economic deals. The loans, however, have yet to materialize.
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