Panelo asks opposition to ‘shut up’ on West Philippine Sea row
MANILA, Philippines—Critics of the Duterte administration’s stance in the West Philippine Sea dispute should just “shut up” as the people no longer trust them as evidenced by the result of the recently concluded midterm elections, Malacañang said Thursday.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said that opposition candidates were “overwhelmingly repudiated by the electorate,” and should therefore shut up as the people already rejected them.
“Itong mga kandidato nung mga nakaraan, they’ve been overwhelmingly repudiated by the electorate and the issues they have raised against the President and this administration have been factored in kasi ‘yan naging linya nila. Paulit-ulit na linya nila against the President and the administration,” Panelo said.
“Eh tinanggihan na nga sila ayaw pa rin silang maniwala na hindi sila pinaniniwalaan ng taumbayan,” he added.
Panelo made the remark as he slammed former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay for calling for a Senate investigation into the supposed verbal agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, giving China access to the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“Hindi na siya SolGen (Solicitor General), tumahimik nalang siya,” Panelo said.
Hilbay was among the opposition’s Senate bet in the May midterm elections, which was dominated by administration-aligned senatorial candidates.
Hilbay on Wednesday said the Senate should conduct the probe to identify what was “bargained away” by Duterte and reveal the terms of the deal.
The fishing agreement was supposedly agreed upon by the two leaders during Duterte’s state visit to Beijing in 2016 but was only publicized last week following the ramming and sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank.
Duterte has been criticized for allegedly kowtowing to Beijing’s expansive claim in the West Philippine Sea. He has also downplayed the Recto Bank incident as a “little maritime accident.”
However, Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, believed that the Recto Bank incident will not affect the popularity of the President. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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