DFA has the last say in foreign affairs, says Locsin, after Roque's 'faux pas' on Julian Felipe Reef

Published May 11, 2021, 7:48 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday issued a “last warning” against those who “talked tough and ended up biting dirt” following the confusion caused by the statement of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque regarding the Philippine stand on Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. discusses the West Philippine Sea issue in a meeting with President Duterte and other Cabinet members in Davao City on May 10, 2021 (Malacañang)

Prior to Locsin’s latest tweet on Roque’s faux pas, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has reiterated that the Philippine statement claiming Julian Felipe Reef as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone “remains unchanged”.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque (JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“This is my last warning. When it comes to foreign affairs, the Department of Foreign Affairs has the exclusive remit. I don’t come from diplomacy; I come from a life that settled the hash of a lotta people who talked tough and ended up biting dirt. I don’t talk, I deal,” Locsin tweeted.

During his regular briefing, Roque told reporters that Julian Felipe Reef is “not part of our EEZ” and the issue, he added, is just being “blown out of proportion”.

Julian Felipe Reef is located 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza town in Palawan

Locsin, in his earlier tweets, was fuming upon learning of the Presidential spokesperson’s spiel

“My God just came in on a very early flight; all this was settled last night; somebody dropped the ball of possession; later he picked up the paper of maritime features not generating their own EEZ just in case we drop the ball of possession yet again and lose our EEZ. Now this?” Locsin tweeted.

He emphasized that the final word on the issue of the West Philippine Sea lies in the hands of the DFA and “no one else” as he expects the department to issue a statement tomorrow regarding the Julian Felipe Reef issue.

“Last word on this is @DFAPHL’s and no one else. I want it tomorrow. Ask no one outside DFA. If I want ignorance I’ll ask for it. Nail it on the door of San Augustine. And that will be that. Or I’m taking a pistol and that’s not a figure of speech. Not one day of p— rest,” he said.

Even maritime expert Jay Batongbacal, Director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP-IMLOS) cannot hide his bewilderment over Roque’s statement on Julian Felipe Reef.

“This directly contradicts each and every official statement and diplomatic protest issued by DFA, every statement of NTF-WPS, and every action of AFP and PCG, about this matter since March,” Batongbacal said in a tweet.

Earlier, former DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario turned down Roque’s invitation for him to debate on the West Philippine Sea issue and even questioned the latter’s credibility as spokesperson of the President of the Republic.

“We are made to understand, however, that Secretary Roque’s own department is undergoing serious credibility challenges. The question arises – Is the problem with the marketer, or is it the product, or both” Del Rosario said in a statement.

 
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