Malacañang denied that China ignored President Duterte’s calls for the country to withdraw its ships from the disputed portions of the South China Sea, saying only a few are left since Duterte spoke about the issue.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement as the Philippines announced that it has protested the hostile acts exhibited by the Chinese Coast Guard against Philippine Coast Guard vessels in Bajo de Masinloc on April 24-25, 2021.
In his press briefing on Monday, Roque said it was not true that Duterte’s call to China fell on deaf ears because 201 of the 220 vessels in the disputed waters already left the area.
“Let me clarify that the President was ignored–that’s not true,” he said.
“Mga bente na lang po ang natitira diyan. I think 201 fishing vessels po ang umalis (I think there’s only around 20 vessels left there. I think 201 fishing vessels have left) and all because of the message of the President and the warm relations we enjoy with China,” he added.
Roque said that Malacañang expects that the remaining 19 vessels will leave this month.
“Inaasahan natin itong buwan na ito mas marami pang fishing vessels na aalis diyan. Doon sa natitirang kakaunti, we’re still hoping na aalis sila (We hope that more of their vessels will leave the area this month. We are still hoping that the remaining few will eventually leave),” he said.
Roque likewise pointed out that even though the area in question was part of the Philippines’ claim to the Kalayaan Group of Islands, the country has never been in possession of it, much like Sabah.
“‘Yan po yung area kung saan malapit yung mga isla na pinag-aagawan sa parte po ng Vietnam at ng China (That is the area near the island that Vietnam and China are fighting over),” he said.
“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE FUCK OUT,” he tweeted on Monday morning.
“What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend,” he added.
On Sunday, Roque asked critics, particularly retired senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, to let President Duterte pursue his policy on the West Philippine Sea issue.
“They should leave international relations to the one who has the foresight, information, and constitutional mandate to make sound foreign policy decisions,” he said.
“They should let President Rodrigo Roa Duterte pursue his careful, calibrated, and calculated foreign policy to its ultimate success,” he added.