Roque: Duterte had verbal deal w/ China to keep WPS status quo

Ex-President Duterte, China had deal to keep WPS status quo – Roque

/ 10:52 AM March 27, 2024

PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte with Chinese President Xi Jinping STORY: Ex-President Duterte, China had deal to keep WPS status quo – Roque

Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (File photo from a Twitter post by Hua Chunying)

MANILA, Philippines — Former President Rodrigo Duterte made a verbal agreement with China when he was still in power to maintain the status quo in the West Philippine Sea, according to ex-presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque clarified, however, that the agreement—which called for the Philippines to refrain from constructing and repairing installations in the area—was non-binding and could not apply during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s tenure.


“[It’s] verbal and, hence, not binding on PBBM [President Bonbong Marcos]. Agreement on status quo,” Roque said in a text message to


He made it clear, however, that this deal was not about China’s claim that a former president supposedly agreed to remove BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal.

“That’s very different. PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] never agreed to remove [BRP] Sierra Madre. They had a gentleman’s agreement that both sides will maintain [the] status quo,” Roque noted.

Roque made the admission of a deal between Duterte and China after the resupply mission to troops stationed at Ayungin Shoal was water cannoned by Chinese Coast Guard vessels.

The incident caused heavy damage to the resupply boats.

READ: PH vessel sustains ‘heavy damage’ in Chinese coast guard attack 


In an interview with Politico, Roque said the reason China was attacking Philippines vessels with water cannons was that it might have misunderstood that the gentleman’s agreement would be applicable under Marcos’ terms.

Duterte has been accused by opposition figures of being the president who promised to remove BRP Sierra Madre, which was deliberately run aground Ayungin Shoal to act as a military outpost.

Other past presidents, namely Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, have categorically denied it.

Lawmakers have urged Duterte to speak up as to whether or not there was a deal with China to withdraw the BRP Sierra Madre.

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro asked the House of Representatives leadership to schedule hearings on the issue.

READ: Castro asks House to have hearings on alleged promise to remove BRP Sierra Madre

READ: Tulfo: Ask Duterte if there was a deal with China on BRP Sierra Madre 

But Duterte’s allies and former officials have maintained that the former president was not involved in the deal.

In August 2023, Sen. Robin Padilla said Duterte’s ex-executive secretary, Salvador Medialdea, said that there was no deal between Duterte and China about removing the Philippine Navy ship.

READ: No Duterte – China deal on removal of BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal — Sen. Padilla 

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Then, last March 19, Salvador Panelo, another former presidential spokesperson, said it would only be “a waste of time” to investigate the supposed deal because it is not true.

READ: Duterte-China ‘deal’ on Ayungin ship probe ‘a waste of time’ – Panelo 

For comprehensive coverage, in-depth analysis, and the latest updates on the West Philippine Sea issue, visit our special site here. Stay informed with articles, videos, and expert opinions.

TAGS: PH-China Relations, Rodrigo Duterte, West Philippine Sea

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.