Duterte meeting with ex-presidents on West PH Sea issues 'not urgent anymore'

Published May 24, 2021, 2:52 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

It seems the proposed reunion of President Duterte with former presidents to tackle issues pertaining to the West Philippine Sea issue may no longer take place.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, there was no urgency for the President to meet with his predecessors and get their views about the country’s territorial dispute with China.

Roque noted that the President already consulted with former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who has agreed with Duterte’s stance on addressing the sea conflict through peaceful means.

Enrile attended a meeting with the President and other Cabinet members at the Palace last week and voiced his concern that the country will “lose more” if it will antagonize China over the maritime row.

“Mukha naman after JPE concurred that the President is pursuing the right policy not the West Philippine Sea, wala naman urgency na pag-usapan ang bagay na ito (there is no urgency to talk about this matter) either with the National Security Council or with former presidents,” Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday, May 24.

Roque said the President merely “toyed with the idea” of informal talks with the former presidents instead of convening the National Security Council. He said the President remembered that nothing was resolved when he attended past meetings of the high-level security body.

“This is a not a done deal. This is something the President was speculating on before JPE fully concurred with his policy on the West Philippine Sea,” Roque said.

Asked if the President will no longer meet with past presidents, Roque: “‘Yun ang impression ko kasi ang sabi niya hindi na niya papansinin ang kanyang mga kritiko (That’s my impression because he already said he will ignore his critics).”

Roque said the President respects the opinion of Enrile on the West Philippine Sea issue. “Ang impression ko (My impression is) he’s satisfied at his policy on the West Philippine Sea is correct and is working,” he said.

Former Senator Rodolfo BIazon earlier proposed the convening of the National Security Council to come up with a clear and united stand on the West Philippine Sea. The former military chief expressed concern that the alleged lack of clarity from the government could weaken the country’s position on the territorial conflict.