Duterte asserted West PH Sea ruling in 1st talk with Xi – Panelo

Duterte asserted West PH Sea ruling in 1st meeting with Xi, says Panelo

/ 01:45 PM April 05, 2024

Duterte asserted West PH Sea ruling in 1st meeting with Xi, says Panelo

This file photo shows then President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping posing for posterity prior to the start of the bilateral meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on August 29, 2019. ROBINSON NINAL/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Then President Rodrigo Duterte used the arbitral tribunal ruling to assert the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea in his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Duterte’s ex-spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo underscored this detail on Friday amid growing condemnation of the alleged deal that the former president made with China regarding the West Philippine Sea.


“Nag-uusap po kami kagabi (Thursday) ni President Duterte, inaalala namin ‘yung exchange nila ni President Xi. Naalala ko, maganda ‘yung usapan nila, bandang huli pinasok niya ‘yung usapan nila sa arbitral ruling,” Panelo recalled during a press conference in Club Filipino in San Juan City.


(President Duterte and I were talking last night (Thursday), and we remembered the exchange between him and President Xi. I remember they had a good talk, later he included in their talk the arbitral ruling.)

Panelo was referring to Duterte and Xi’s bilateral meeting in Beijing in 2019.

READ: Xi rejects PH win in South China Sea as Duterte insists ‘binding’ arbitral ruling

However, according to Panelo, Duterte’s assertion of the July 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration award changed Xi’s mood.

“Nagulat kami sa reaction ng mama (Xi), nung kabila. Sabi niya: ‘Do not force that, because if you force that, there will be trouble.’ Shocked kami lahat eh,” he further said.


(We were surprised by Xi’s reaction, the other side. He said: ‘Do not force that, because if you force that, there will be trouble’. We were all shocked.)

READ: Duterte-China West PH Sea ‘deal’: Panelo willing to face probe over it

Also during their phone conversation on Thursday night, Panelo said Duterte denied making an agreement with China regarding the West Philippine Sea, contradicting his fellow Duterte administration colleague, Harry Roque, who made the bombshell revelation in late March.

“Kahit na (Even) after [the talks with Xi Jinping], walang nangyaring ganoon (there was no such a thing),” he likewise said.

“Eh kami na ngang Cabinet members vina-validate namin ang sinabi ni Presidente Duterte eh (Us who are Cabinet members are even validating what President Duterte said),” he added,

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National Security Adviser Eduardo Año is the latest Cabinet official from the Duterte administration to deny the existence of the “gentlemen’s agreement” to supposedly maintain a status quo in the West Philippine Sea. Año served as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government after serving as Armed Forces of the Philippines chief under the Duterte administration.

Beijing continues to assert it owns almost the entire South China Sea, including most of the West Philippine Sea, even if such a claim has been effectively invalidated by a July 2016 international tribunal ruling that stemmed from a case filed by Manila in 2013.

TAGS: Duterte, West Phililppine Sea

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