Malacañang still has no official position on the AUKUS security pact, but President Duterte has expressed concern on one of the agreement’s implications in the Southeast Asian region.
Thus, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Tuesday, Sept. 28, a day after he consulted with the Chief Executive during the “Talk to the People” public briefing.
AUKUS stands for Australia, United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US). According to Roque, the security pact involves Australia’s purchase of nuclear-powered submarines for the Australian Navy.
These subs will then be used by the three nations in patrolling the South China Sea–a location that in recent years have been feared to cause a flashpoint mainly due to regional power China’s aggressive maritime posturing.
“He [President Duterte] said that this will be discussed in the full Cabinet meeting although he expressed concern about a regional nuclear arms race,” Roque told reporters during a virtual press briefing Tuesday.
“But he will discuss this further with the Cabinet and will come up with a clear position after the meeting of the Cabinet,” he said of Duterte.
The Philippine leader’s initial reaction on the AUKUS Security Pact is consistent with that of Southeast Asian neighbor Indonesia, which, according to Roque, is “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region”.
On the other, he said the Vietnamese government intends to “keep track of the situation while urging all countries to ensure peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region”.
Meanwhile, Roque said Singapore is hopeful “that AUKUS would contribute constructively to the peace and stability of the region and complement the regional architecture”.