By Genalyn Kabiling
The Philippine government is committed to defend the country’s sovereignty while continuing to enhance mutually beneficial relations with China.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the assurance as he tried to dispel speculations the government was giving too much too soon in the relations with China.
“The Duterte administration has certainly not given up too much too early too soon in its relations with China nor China gained more than us,” Roque said during a Palace news conference.
“On the contrary, we have upheld our national interests and produced tangible benefits for our people in pursuing friendly and mutually beneficial ties with China,” he said.
Roque highlighted that there is “peace in the region” while local fisherman have resumed fishing rights in Scarborough Shoal. In addition, Roque cited increased arrivals of Chinese tourists as well as investments from mainland China.
“We have said in numerous occasions that we will continue to defend our sovereignty and sovereign rights when we discuss our territorial and maritime disputes with China while maximizing the benefits of our people by promoting economic and other relations with China in which there are no contentious issues between us,” he said.
Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, reportedly claimed that China was gaining “too much” from the country’s alleged soft stance on the territorial dispute.
He claimed that the country was trading away “too much, too early and too soon” in dealing with China.
He alleged that the government allowed China to fish in the West Philippine Sea and stopped making an issue about the presence of the Chinese military in the area.