DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is implementing active mechanisms to discuss with China the pressing concern that surrounds West Philippine Sea (WPS), particularly on militarization.
This was the assurance made by Malacañang on Thursday, May 17 in a press briefing made by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr.
Duterte has been under fire by various sectors and his critics recently on reports that China has been active in its military activities in WPS.
Roque disproved critics’ claims that the Duterte administration is keeping mum on China’s reported construction of military installations in the disputed territory.
He added that the Philippines, as reported to him by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, has already raised the issue during the recent bilateral consultation mechanism with China.
“Ang huling pagkakaalam ko po, sinabi sa akin mismo ni Secretary Cayetano, hindi lang sila nag-protesta, pero ‘yung bilateral mechanism nila kung saan pinag-uusapan ‘yung problema sa [WPS] ay pinag-usapan daw ‘yung paggagawa nga ng mga armas at ng airport at ng mga eroplano doon mismo sa mga isla na ‘yan,” Roque stressed.
“Lahat daw po ‘yan ay napag-usapan doon… ‘Yan po ‘yung ating mekanismo,” he further noted.
The presidential spokesperson pointed out that the government is approaching the issues at WPS not only by means of a diplomatic protest, but also through an “open, frank, candid, and frontal discussion” with China.
“Mas matindi pa nga po. Hindi lang po protesta ‘yun. Talagang pinarating po nila ‘yung ating saloobin na tayo po ay nababahala – frontal – sa mekanismo na binuo natin para sa usaping [WPS],” Roque said.
In an interview on Wednesday in Malacanang, Duterte dismissed his critics’ questions on the reported landings of China’s air assets in the disputed areas at WPS.
“There is an airport. There are businesses there installed. There are military equipment already in place. So what’s the point of questioning whether the planes there land or not. There’s an airstrip. Hindi naman ‘ka ko maglanding ‘yan doon sa bato, maganda ang airstrip nila,” the President said.
Duterte added he could declare war against China overnight but winning such action remains a big question on the part of the Philippines.
“Sabi ngayon, gusto ninyong giyerahin natin. Sino bang gusto na ano — Kasi payag ako. I can declare war on China tonight. At sino ang magpunta? Sundalo ko? Pulis ko? Mamatay lang lahat ‘yan. sinabi ng — why will I go to war for a battle that I cannot win?” he emphasized. (davaotoday.com)