President Duterte’s critical stance toward China over the Ayungin Shoal incident is “consistent” with his views on resolving territorial disputes at-sea.
Thus, said Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles Tuesday, Nov. 23, after a reporter highlighted the Philippine leader’s supposed “change in tone”.
“I think the President has always been consistent, ‘no. Sa UN General Asembly, sa mga ASEAN Summits, lagi niyang binabalik-balikan yung UNCLOS at yung ating  Arbitral Award. Bumabalik siya lagi dun (In the United Nations General Assembly and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summits, he always refers to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and our 2016 Arbitral Award. He always refers to it),” Nograles said in a virtual press conference.
Last Nov. 16, three Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and fired water cannons on two Philippine boats transporting supplies to military personnel in Ayungin Shoal. Ayungin is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) promptly conveyed protests to Chinese authorities, something that Malacañang lauded.
Duterte, during Monday’s virtual ASEAN-China Special Summit, told Chinese President Xi Jinping: “We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments. This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership.”
A reporter in the virtual presser noted Duterte’s “direct and critical” reaction to the Chinese vessels’ action against the Philippine boats. He then asked what the President sought to accomplish “by changing his tone so close to the end of his term”.
But there was no such change, as far as Nograles is concerned.
“Lagi niya sinasabi yung (He always highlights the) importance ng peace and unity, importance of peaceful resolution ng ating (of our) disputes. So very consistent si Pangulo sa issue and concern po na yan (The President is very consistent when it comes to that issue and concern),” he said.
Nograles bared on Tuesday that Philippine troops in Ayungin have successfully been resupplied with provisions..
Duterte, who is set o step down on June 30, 2022, is known for being friendly with regional power China.
Duterte repeatedly raised UNCLOS and its historic arbitration victory against China during the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits late last month. He also attended the meetings virtually.