Sotto favors diplomacy: ‘Why should we pick a fight with China?’
“Why should we pick a fight with China if there are diplomatic means? They’re good to us lately.”
This was the reaction of Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Sunday when asked to comment on Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano’s claim that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to stop patrolling the West Philippine Sea.
Sotto said that all approach to the China issue must be diplomatic.
“It’s better to have friends than enemies. Bakit natin aawayin ang China kung meron namang diplomatic means. Ang bait sa atin lately,” he said.
He added that Filipinos should acknowledge China’s contributions to the Philippines.
On Saturday, Alejano, citing military sources, said the Duterte administration ordered the AFP not to patrol the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Sotto questioned the veracity of the information that Alejano received from his military sources, noting that Macalañang has belied the allegation.
“Sino paniniwalaan natin ang Malacañang o ang congressman? (Who are we going to believe: Malacañang or a congressman),” he added.
There have been numerous calls for the government to file a protest against China for its reported aggression in the South China Sea.
The Senate committees on foreign relations and defense have yet to call for an inquiry on the government’s actions on the dispute with China.
Asked to assess President Duterte’s handling of the China issue, Sotto said he believes the President’s style is diplomatic. He also belied rumors that the soldiers are in uproar. /ee
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