Duterte’s exercise of diplomacy on West PH Sea row is an exception to freedom of information — Roque

Published April 15, 2021, 2:33 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said President Duterte’s possible courses of action to address the tension in the West Philippine Sea are covered by the exemption to freedom of information.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) reported that at least 240 suspected Chinese militia vessels were lingering in the disputed waters.

In his press briefing on Thursday, Roque said the President’s exercise of diplomatic initiatives are not covered by freedom of information.

“Ang larangan ng diplomasya, isang (Diplomacy is an) exception to freedom of information,” he said.

“Kaya po ‘yan (It is) covered by exception, dahil (because) the President must make the right decision no matter what. So let’s leave the President to his devices,” he added.

Roque, however, remained hopeful that the issue will be settled through the friendship that the Philippines has cultivated with China.

“In the past five years of his administration, we have moved from a position of antagonism with China to a position of friendship. Malaki naman po ang mapapakinabang natin ngayong nakakapag-usap tayo ng bansang China (We have gained so much now that we are able to talk with China),” he said.

“Inaasahan po natin na yung malapit na pagkakaibigan natin ang magiging dahilan kung bakit sila ay aalis nang mas maaga kaysa mas matagal (We expect that our close friendship will be the way for their vessels to leave the area sooner than later),” he added.

Meanwhile, the Palace official said that the Philippines remains committed to the crafting of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

On Friday, Roque said that the NTF-WPS has always been consistent in invoking Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights over the disputed waters.

In September last year, President Duterte earned praises for asserting in the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) the Philippines’ rights over the disputed South China Sea even though Beijing would not budge and continues to reject the 2016 Arbitral Ruling.