By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is committed to continue the country’s dialogue with China as part of his unwavering effort to defend national interests in the West Philippine Sea.
According to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, the President would keep the lines of communication with China open as he remained steadfast in protecting the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“The President’s stance on defending our interests in the West Philippine Sea has never wavered,” Panelo said in a recent interview with the Manila Bulletin.
“Like the strong and sensible leader he is, the President will remain steadfast in defending our country’s sovereign rights and maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea through maintaining open lines of communication and dialogues with China,” he said.
Panelo said the administration aims not only to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty, but also further improve the country’s relations with China.
At the start of his term, President Duterte agreed to pursue bilateral consultation mechanism with China to manage the South China Sea dispute while pursuing closer economic and diplomatic ties with China. He also promised to raise the arbitration ruling that nullified China’s claims in the region at the proper time.
Some groups however have criticized the Duterte administration for not doing enough to assert the country’s rights amid China’s reclamation works and military buildup.
Panelo assured the public that the President had a “deep sense of loyalty and love for the country” amid his commitment to protect the country’s territorial interests.
“Our President is known for his pragmatic and candid leadership. This straightforward manner of expressing himself to the public is also reflected in his policies. this is why he is admired by many Filipinos for they see his deep sense of loyalty and love for the country,” he said.