Palace: ‘Too little, too late’ claim vs Duterte’s action on latest WPS incident not true
MANILA, Philippines — The Palace on Tuesday rejected allegations of a local fishers’ group that President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent denunciation of China’s acts in the West Philippine Sea came “too little, too late.”
Cabinet Secretary and current acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the assertions of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) are not true.
“Hindi po totoo lahat ng mga paratang na ‘yun. DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) acted swiftly. The President spoke about the issue. Ang resupply boats po natin ay nakarating sa Ayungin Shoal,” Nograles said during the Palace press briefing.
(All of those allegations are not true. The DFA acted swiftly. The President spoke about the issue. Our resupply boats reached the Ayungin Shoal.)
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on November 18 revealed in a social media post that the China Coast Guard “blocked and water cannoned” Filipino boats on a supply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. The incident happened on November 16, according to reports.
Four days later, Duterte said during the ASEAN-China special summit on November 22: “We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments. This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership.”
The DFA has subsequently filed a protest on the latest action of the China Coast Guard within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
But Pamalakaya said Duterte’s statement was “too little, too late” even adding that “China has intensified its militarization and aggression in the West Philippine Sea” under the Duterte administration.
The group also said that Duterte’s pronouncement was “more of a salvation of his political interest than assertion of national sovereignty.”
Meanwhile, when asked about why the Filipino resupply boats had no escorts at the time of the latest incident with the China Coast Guard, Nograles pointed out that it was “just a testament and proof” that Filipinos can go to the West Philippine Sea.
“‘Yung pagpadala po ng resupply boats at ang pagdating po nila do’n (Deploying resupply boats and reaching there) without any escorts is just a testament and proof that we can peacefully supply and resupply our Filipino citizens there,” he said.
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