Pimentel: Duterte’s ‘unrecorded’ pact with China not binding for PH

Duterte’s ‘unrecorded’ pact with China not binding for PH — Pimentel

/ 01:01 PM April 05, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — “A single Filipino, no matter the position in the government, cannot bind the country in an informal, unwritten, unrecorded so-called agreement.”

These were Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III’s words on Friday, decrying former President Rodrigo Duterte’s supposed deal with China.

READ: Duterte-China deal covers entire WPS not just Ayungin – Roque

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The deal, as disclosed by former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, was to “maintain the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea. Roque said the pact also called for the Philippines to refrain from delivering construction and repair materials to the BRP Sierra Madre grounded in Ayungin Shoal.

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Speaking at a virtual press conference, Pimentel simply labeled the alleged Duterte-China pact as “void” even if Duterte was the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy back then.

“No matter the position. Because it is an informal, unwritten, unrecorded agreement. Malay mo kailangan may concurrence ‘yan (Maybe that requires concurrence). How can concurrence be given to a ‘he said, she said’ scenario?” said Pimentel.

Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros recently filed a resolution seeking a probe into the alleged pact. For Pimentel, the hearings that would be conducted in line with Hontiveros’ measure would be beneficial to instill in the mind of future leaders “not to enter such an agreement.”

READ: Hontiveros files resolution for probe into Duterte-China WPS deal

“At least ma-klaro natin itong sinasabi ko (At least we can clarify what I’m saying). That this should be the statement of legal principle: No individual Filipino, no matter his or her position in government, can bind the Republic of the Philippines in an informal, unrecorded, unwritten so-called agreement,” Pimentel emphasized.

When asked if Duterte should be invited to the probe, Pimentel said it was not necessary. However, he noted that Duterte could address the issue if he wanted to.

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“But my point is — napakahirap i-prove ang isang negative matter ha. Ipapa-prove natin sa isang tao na it did not happen? Wala eh, there is no record. There is no mention nitong gentleman’s agreement during his term — from his office or from himself. Why are we going to believe it na meron?” he said.

(But my point is, it’s very difficult to prove a negative matter. Would we have someone prove that it didn’t happen? No, there is no record. There is no mention of this gentleman’s agreement during his term — from his office or from himself. Why are we going to believe that there is an agreement?)

In the end, Pimentel admitted he remains skeptical about the pact despite Roque’s repeated disclosure that there was, indeed, an agreement.

Former presidential adviser Salvador Panelo already stated that Duterte denied having made such a deal.

“I’ve been avoiding that Ayungin Shoal like a hot potato because I know it’s a very hot topic so I did not make an agreement with anyone,” said Panelo in a mix of English and Filipino, quoting Duterte.

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TAGS: Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, China, Duterte, West Philippine Sea

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