Palace: ‘We can never be slaves to anyone’
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has denied the country is a slave to China, asserting that “we can never be slaves to anyone.”
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who also serves as chief legal counsel of President Rodrigo Duterte, even reiterated that Philippine sovereignty is “non-negotiable.”
“We can never be slaves to anyone,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing, as his comment was sought on the statement of Felix dela Torre, owner of the sunken F/B Gem-Vi 1, which was reportedly rammed and abandoned by a Chinese vessel last June 9 at Recto (Reed) Bank.
Dela Torre earlier said he felt that Filipinos had become slaves and lost their rights over their territory.
But Panelo gave a reassurance, saying: “As a matter of policy, we always say that we will not allow any assault on our sovereignty – that’s the policy. That is unchanged.”
“Sovereignty is never a subject of negotiation,” he added.
The gas-rich Recto Bank is within the Philippines exclusive economic zone.
Duterte, who has fostered warmer ties with China since he assumed office, has not made any public condemnation about the sinking of the anchored Philippine boat at Recto Bank. His silence was a stark contrast to his attitude on Canada, which he warned of waging war with over its illegally shipped garbage to the Philippines.
Panelo explained Duterte’s silence over the incident.
“He is not silent. He is waiting for the facts to set in before he makes any declaration,” he said, adding that the Philippines and China had started conducting their own investigations.
(Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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