Palace insists no Duterte promise to retake West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte did not promise to retake the West Philippine Sea and instead only vowed to tell China to honor the country’s sovereign rights.
Duterte, in his pre-recorded speech aired Monday, claimed he never promised to retake the disputed waters when he ran for the presidency in 2016.
“I think the President should be construed literally. Hindi niya pinangako na maibabalik niya yung mga teritoryong nawala sa atin dahil sa kagagawan ng ibang tao at ibang administrasyon. Pero mga sinasabi niya, he will ask China to honor sovereignty and sovereign rights na ginagawa naman po niya,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online briefing.
(I think the President should be construed literally. He did not promise to retake the territory that was lost because of other people’s doing and other administrations. He was saying he will ask China to honor sovereignty and sovereign rights which he is already doing.)
“Pero I think the President was clear, hindi siya nangako na mababawi yung mga teritoryo na nawala na sa atin. Even the jet ski, ang sabi lang naman niya sasabihan niya ang China na umalis. Pero hindi niya ipinangako na yung nawalang Scarborough Shoal ay mapapaalis niya ang mga Tsino roon,” he added.
(But I think the President was clear that he did not promise to retake the territory we lost. Even the jet ski, he only said he would tell China to pull out from there. But he never promised that he would expel China from Scarborough Shoal.)
Before his presidential victory in 2016, Duterte said he would ride a jet ski going to the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea and plant the Philippine flag there.
Later on, he said the public should not expect him to do it as his remarks were just a hyperbole to show his stance that the Philippine government would not give up any of its territories to China
Duterte, who has been long criticized for his seeming warm stance with China, said the Philippines’ conflict with China over the disputed waters is not a reason to be “rude and disrespectful” towards them as they remain the country’s “benefactor.”
Previously, the President said the country owed a “debt of gratitude” to China because of the vaccines it has donated to the country.
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