Palace: Duterte to push for PH interest amid US-China word war

Published August 27, 2020, 3:18 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang assured the public that President Duterte will push for what is best for the Philippines as the tension between the United States and China over the disputed South China Sea intensified.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US has imposed visa restrictions on Chinese nationals responsible for or complicit in either the large-scale reclamation, construction, or militarization activities in the disputed waters.

Roque refused to comment on the act of the United States but said it was the right of any country to restrict entry to their territory.

“‘Yang desisyon kung sino ang papasukin sa teritoryo ng isang bansa ay desisyon po ‘yan ng isang soberenya bansa (The decision to allow certain people to enter a country is a decision of a sovereign state),” he said.

“Nirerespeto po natin ang desisyon na ‘yan at hindi na po kinakailangang komentuhan (We respect their decision at it doesn’t need to be commented on),” he added.

However, Roque assured the public that President Duterte will advance the Philippines’ interest as the tension between the United States and China intensified.

“Malinaw po ang posisyon ng ating Presidente. Ang itataguyod po niya ay ang pang-nasyonal na interes ng Pilipians sa gitna po ng banggaan ng dalawang dambuhalang bansa (The President’s position is clear. He will advance the country’s interest amid the tension between these two big countries),” he said.

According to Pompeo, those Chinese persons who will not be given visas are the ones coercing Southeast Asian claimant nations to inhibit their access to offshore resources

The Philippines recently filed a diplomatic protest against China for its illicit issuance of radio challenges at aircraft conducting regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) likewise protested China’s confiscation of Filipino fishermen’s aggregating devices in Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal.

In response, China accused the Philippines of illegal provocations in the disputed waters, saying the Philippines has infringed on its sovereignty and security.

Despite this, Roque said that the recent developments in the South China Sea should not affect the relationship between the Philippines and China.

“Hindi po magiging dahilan itong unresolved issue sa ating teritoryo bilang hadlang para isulong sa ating (The unresolved issue in our territory should not hinder our) diplomatic bilateral relations with China, yung mga bagay na pupwede namang isulong, gaya ng kalakal at investments (especially on areas we can push for like trade and investments),” he said on Monday.