Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. have agreed that he will continue to speak on issues concerning international law.
Roque made this announcement two days after Locsin warned him to leave foreign affairs matter to the Department of Foreign Affairs following his statement that Julian Felipe Reef is “not within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone”.
“Nagkausap na po kami ni Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin kahapon nang umaga, at we are fine. Nagkasundo po rin kami na patuloy pa rin na dapat ako ay magsalita sa larangan po ng international law. (I and DFA Secretary Locsin were able to talk yesterday morning, and we are fine. We agreed that I should continue talking on matters pertaining to international law),” Roque said during the regular Palace press briefing.
In one of his tweets directed to Roque, Locsin said, “This is my last warning. When it comes to foreign affairs the Department of Foreign Affairs has the exclusive remit.”
Roque, however, believes that so far, his pronouncements and statements are correct and consistent with the policy of President Duterte.
“Kaya po napapansin ninyo sa Talk to the People, well, matagal po iyong mga meeting namin pero matagal din iyong usapin namin na primarily on foreign affairs kasi iyon talaga ang importante na tama ang mga sinasabi ko ‘no. (That’s why you will notice during the Talk to the People, well, the meetings are long but we have lengthy discussions primarily on foreign affairs because it is important that what I say is correct),” he said.
He said the President never told him he was wrong and is more than willing to comply if the President will tell him otherwise.
It was not the first time the Roque and Locsin had clashed on issues related to the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.
In February this year, Locsin told Harry Roque to “lay off” foreign affairs, saying the Palace official is “not competent” in the field.
“I am not listening to Harry Roque. Love the guy but he’s not competent in this field. We do not go back to The Hague. We might lose what we won. Harry, lay off,” Locsin tweeted.
The DFA secretary’s tweet was in response to Roque’s pronouncement that the Philippines could raise to a United Nations-backed tribunal China’s new law that allows its coast guard to fire at foreign vessels in Chinese-claimed reefs.
“Ang China po hindi pupuwedeng dalhin sa International Court of Justice dahil wala po siyang consent na mag-litigate doon sa ICJ (We can’t bring it before the International Court of Justice because it has not consented to litigation.),”Roque said.