Palace takes ‘hands-off’ stance on comfort woman statue issue
Malacañang on Thursday said the government was taking a “hands-off” approach on the issue of the comfort women statue in Manila, dismissing speculations that the controversial marker would strain diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Japan.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement after Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda reportedly expressed displeasure over the statue erected along Roxas Boulevard during his meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday.
“It’s regrettable for this kind of statue to suddenly appear,” Kyodo News quoted Noda as saying.
But Roque said Malacañang would not meddle on the issue, saying the statue was not built by the Palace.
“It’s not something the President will act on himself. We didn’t erect the statue so it’s not a Presidential project, so to speak,” he said in a Palace briefing.
Jojo Alcovendaz, Manila City administrator, said it was the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) who allowed a foundation to erect on Roxas Boulevard a bronze statue in memory of Filipino women forced into sexual acts by Japanese troops during World War II.
“Then that should be addressed to the NHCP,” Roque said.
The Palace official said the comfort women issue would not strain diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Japan.
“I don’t think this is really a bilateral issue because our ties with Japan are very strong. We have every reason to be optimistic that bilateral relations with Japan will become even more stronger,” he said.
Duterte, Roque said, “values the very close bilateral relations that we have with Japan currently.” /je