Palace says Duterte gets annoyed by critics of his foreign policy
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte is irked by the critics of his foreign policy, not by the unending issue on the dispute over the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Friday.
“Nayayamot lang siya na hindi naiintindihan ng mga critics and detractors ‘yung complexity, parang sini-simplify niyo lahat ito,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel when asked if the President is bothered that the issue on the disputed territories is sticking out for weeks now.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said Duterte’s detractors keep on hitting his verbal agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping that gave China access to the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) without evaluating the complexity of the issue.
The fishing agreement was supposedly agreed upon by the two leaders during Duterte’s state visit to Beijing in 2016 but was only publicized recently following the ramming and sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel at Recto Bank.
“Hindi niyo alam na China is in possession at sinabihan na nga ako nang harap-harapan ‘huwag kang pumasok diyan at may gulo diyan.’ Kung ikaw Presidente at nagsalita sa’yo ‘yung presidente ng isang powerful na bansa, anong gagawin mo? Pagpipilitan mo? That’s reckless,” Panelo said.
“Ang style niya intelligent approach. Practical. Cautious,” he added.
The Philippines, along with fellow Southeast Asian nations Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, have overlapping claims to the sea along with China.
Despite an agreement to refrain from undertaking provocative actions, China has continued to expand and militarize territories that it claimed in the maritime region.
Maritime peace in the disputed territories was again tested when a Chinese trawler rammed and sank a Filipino fishing boat in Recto Bank, an area within Manila’s EEZ. A Vietnamese boat rescued 22 Filipino fishermen who were left floating at sea.
Duterte drew flak for downplaying the issue as a mere “little maritime accident.”
The President also promised to use his upcoming fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) to “educate” the public about the Constitutionality of his verbal deal with Xi. /jpv
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