Duterte to ignore critics; gags Cabinet on West PH Sea issue

Published May 17, 2021, 11:02 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte ordered his Cabinet members to refrain from talking about the West Philippine Sea issue in public, even as he affirmed his new policy of not engaging his critics on the issue.

“That’s my order now to the Cabinet and to all, for the government, to refrain from discussing itong (the) West Philippine Sea [issue] with anybody,” he said.

“If we have to talk, we talk. Tayo-tayo lang (just among us), and there is one spokesman, si (who is) Secretary Harry Roque,” he added.

The Chief Executive decided that he will just ignore the opinion of his critics about his policy on the West Philippine Sea, saying they just derail him from doing his official duties.

President Duterte (Simeon Celi / Malacañang Photo)

Duterte made the statement as he listened to former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile recalling what he knows about the issue on the disputed waters.

In his pre-recorded public address, the President said he will no longer react to whatever his critics will say about the issue.

“Maybe I will just ignore my critics,” he said Monday evening.

“[They just] derail me from my official duties and I will just say that, well, after talking to Senator Enrile, you guys have become irrelevant to me,” he added.

The 97-year-old former lawmaker agreed with Duterte’s decision and told the President to just let his critics ramble on.

“‘Wag mo nang sagutin (Do not answer them), Mr. President. They will enjoy that and they’re being answered by a president,” Enrile said.

“You are only responsible to the Filipino people and you are not responsible to any specific people for your foreign policy,” he added.

The issue on the West Philippine Sea resurfaced following the recent Chinese incursions in the disputed waters over the past few months.