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Palace: Duterte will not apologize for policy on China

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By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said President Duterte will not apologize for his decision to be friendly with China as the policy is said to be one of the solutions to resolve the dispute in the South China Sea.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing in Malacañang on April 20, 2018. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after Associate Justice Antonio Carpio expressed that Duterte’s repeated warning that insisting on the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea will only result into a war with China.

In a press briefing in Cagayan de Oro, Roque said that the use of force against China will only lead to a military misunderstanding with the Asian giant.

The Palace official also said that President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to deploy the Navy to the Scarborough Shoal is the main reason why Chinese forces are also there and never left.

“Well, hindi po nag-a-apologize ang Presidente roon. Dahil sa totoo lang po, kung tayo po ay gagamit ng dahas gaya ng ginawa ni Presidente Aquino na naging dahilan kung bakit nandoon na ngayon ang mga Tsino sa Panatag, ‘yung pagpapadala ng isang Navy ship, ay magreresulta po ‘yan sa isang hidwaang militar na iniiwasan natin (The President will not apologize for that. If we will use force like what President Aquino will only result to a military understanding and that is what we are trying to avoid),” he said.

“Kasi noong nakipag-away tayo, malinaw na pinagtabuyan tayo sa Panatag. Hindi po ‘yan mabubura. ‘Wag po nating kalimutan, na si Presidente Aquino ang unang nag-militarize niyan dahil siya nagpadala ng (Because when we stood up against them, we were driven away from the Panatag. That cannot be erased. Let us not forget that President Aquino was the first to militarize the area by sending there the) Navy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Roque also appealed to let President Duterte express his sentiments on the issue as, after all, he is the chief author of the country’s foreign policy.

“Pagdating naman doon sa maaanghang na salita, eh hayaan niyo na ang Presidente dahil siya naman ang author ng (When it comes to his strong statements, just let the President be for, after all, he is the author of our) foreign policy,” he said.

The Palace official also pointed out that the dispute can be resolved through diplomacy and raised that improving relationship between the Philippines and China may just be one of the reasons that may lead to the resolution.

“Itong pagkakaibigan po, siya pong dahilan kung hindi lang tayo nagkakaroon ng mas malawakang pagsasamahan sa bansang Tsina. At itong bagong pagkakaibigan po, ito rin ang magbibigay ng solusyon dahil ang desisyon po ng Arbitral Tribunal, wala pong kinalaman sa pinag-aagawang isla (This friendship is the reason why we have a good relationship with China. And this friendship will also solve what the Arbitral Tribunal cannot),” Roque said.

“‘Yung mga pinag-aagawang isla po, kailangang maresolba rin ‘yan sa diplomasya (The dispute in territories should be resolved through diplomacy), he added.

Last week, Duterte said that it would be easy for him to maintain a hard line against China just what he is being prodded by his critics to do. However, he pointed out that he will not sacrifice the lives of Filipinos for a losing war.

“Itong South China Sea, ano’ng gusto niyo (In the South China Sea, what do you want to happen)? What kind of pugnacious attitude would I have to adopt to convince the Chinese to get out?” he said.

He also reiterated that the Philippine government has already lodged protests against China for the militarization in the disputed waters.

Duterte, however, assured that he will be sure to talk with China about the arbitral award granting the Philippines rights to the disputed waters.

The President also expressed confidence that befriending China will eventually result into something good.

“Ang ano ko, wala na rin akong magawa (I cannot do anything about it). Since I cannot do it physically, or…. hayaan ko na muna (I’ll let it be for now). But something good will happen,” Duterte expressed.

“I’m sure. Something good will happen and that would be when we start to dig, or anybody else pocket, would start to dig the minerals there,” he added.

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