Former president Duterte made West PH Sea deal with China — Roque

Former Palace spokesman Harry Roque said former president Rodrigo Duterte had entered into an informal agreement with China on the West Philippine Sea.

But he clarified it was not about towing away the grounded Philippine ship in the Ayungin Shoal.

The "gentleman's agreement" that Duterte had with China was not to send more construction materials in the water still contested by Beijing to prevent tension from further escalating, Roque said.

"It was publicly stated by [former Foreign Affairs] Sec. [Alan Peter] Cayetano. It was agreement [to] respect status quo. No further improvements on both sides," Roque said in a text message Wednesday, March 27.

"[It] did not include removal of Sierra Madre. No such agreement agreed upon by the Duterte admin," he added.

Roque's remark came as who promised China that the Philippines would remove the grounded ship remains unanswered.

This, as China had justified its harassment on Filipino troops, including by hitting them with a water cannon, by saying the Philippines did not stand by its promise of towing away Sierra Madre and not sending any more construction materials.

In an interview with Politiko, Roque said Duterte, during his administration, pledged to only bring food and water supplies to troops manning the BRP Sierra Madre.

"Pero ang reklamo ng mga Tsina ngayon ay taliwas doon sa naging kasunduan noong nakaraan ay nagdadala sila ng mga repair equipment para nga ayusin daw yung Sierra Madre. Kaya ganyan naging reaksyon ng Tsina (But China's complaint is that the Philippines' action is opposite to what was agreed that there would be no more sending of repair equipment. That's why that's China's reaction)," Roque said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Marcos administration seemed to have no official record of such a deal.

Sought for comment on Roque's comment, Ma. Teresita Daza, DFA spokesperson, only referred back the media to him for clarification.