Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has nothing but praise for President Duterte over his peaceful stance in dealing with the West Philippine Sea dispute with China.
Enrile commended Duterte for ensuring the country’s survival by choosing dialogue over antagonizing China regarding the territorial row.
The former Senate President attended the meeting with the President and other top government officials in Malacañang to discuss the issues related to the West Philippine Sea, including the Panatag Shoal standoff in 2012. He was invited by Duterte to the meeting to give his insights on the matter.
“Only history will judge you. And I think that history will judge you very well. If I were in your place I would have — I would have done the same thing,” Enrile told the President.
“What else can a president of this country do under our present national circumstance? You can shout, you can beat your breast, you can raise your fist. Without any backup, it’s just — that is just noise,” he said.
Enrile maintained that the country only stands to “lose more” if it antagonizes China over the maritime dispute. He said the country should befriend China rather than “irritate” the Asian giant.
“Mr. President, I congratulate you for your effort to see to it that the country will survive in these critical times,” he said.
“Hindi dapat gamitin ang mainit na kaisipan na kagaya ng mga kritiko natin. Dapat balanced lang approach natin at mahinahon (We should not use anger like what what our critics do. There should be a balanced and calm approach,” he added.
He said the President was the sole architect of the country’s foreign policy, and that he remained responsible to the Filipino nation.
“At palagay ko sa panahon na ito ay walang bansa na puwedeng makaya ang Tsina. Kaya tama ‘yong posture ninyo na kausapin ang Tsina dito sa bagay na ito. Huwag gagamitin ang emosyon at init ng ulo (I think at this time, no country can match China. That’s why your posture to talk to China is correct. Do not use emotion or temper),” he added.
Enrile also suggested that the “best thing” the President can do was to ignore his critics. “Yours is to protect the interest of the nation and its people in the best way you can,” he added.