Duterte-China deal covers entire not just Ayungin – Roque

Duterte-China deal covers entire not just Ayungin – Roque

/ 10:05 AM April 02, 2024

China-Armed Forces of the Philippines

Philippine Supply Vessel Unaizah May 4 en route to Ayungin Shoal for a Rotation and Resupply Mission was water cannoned by the China Coast Guard. (Screengrab from Armed Forces of the Philippines video posted on Facebook/File photo)

MANILA, Philippines — Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified on Tuesday that ex-President Rodrigo Duterte made no specific “agreement” on Ayungin Shoal.

He reiterated that the pact made with China was to “respect the status quo” in the entire West Philippine Sea.

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Roque’s clarification came after former presidential adviser Salvador Panelo claimed that Duterte “did not enter” any gentleman’s agreement.

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In an interview over SMNI on Monday, Panelo said he talked to Duterte twice during the Holy Week and the former chief executive categorically denied having made such a pact with China.

“I’ve been avoiding that Ayungin Shoal like a hot potato because I know it’s a very hot topic, so I did not make an agreement with anyone,” said Panelo in a mix of English and Filipino, quoting Duterte.

Panelo likewise claimed that whoever is spreading that such an agreement exists is lying, adding that that person probably wants “publicity for himself.”

READ: Carpio: Duterte gave up PH right over Ayungin in an agreement w/ China

Roque, in an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Tuesday, agreed with some points made by Panelo.

He, however, maintained that Duterte had an agreement with China.

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“There is no specific agreement on Ayungin. The gentleman’s agreement is to respect the status quo on the entire West Philippine Sea dispute. That is correct and I do not deny that,” said Roque.

“So, that is why I am, in fact, surprised that what has been coming in the media is a sell out of sorts. Why? Did we lose territory? Did we lose [BRP] Sierra Madre? Did the [former] President order the removal of BRP Sierra Madre? Certainly not,” he noted.

“The agreement is on how to manage the entire dispute in the West Philippine Sea and not specifically on Ayungin,” he added.

READ: Ex-President Duterte, China had deal to keep status quo – Roque

Roque earlier told the media that Duterte’s agreement – which called for the Philippines to refrain from constructing and repairing installations in the area — was “non-binding” and could not apply during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s tenure.

In the same interview on ANC, Roque said there was also a water cannon incident during Duterte’s time and this occurred in Ayungin Shoal.

“That was when the matter of delivery of supplies and repair materials came about. But I remember distinctly and I was there when the [former] President showed his anger to the Chinese ambassador: ‘Make sure that not one of my soldier dies, because if even one of them dies then it would become a different pattern,’” he recalled the former president saying.

Roque admitted he is not certain whether or not the Philippines proceeded to deliver construction materials to BRP Sierra Madre after the water cannon incident during Duterte’s time.

But he also explained that the grounded BRP Sierra Madre would certainly have collapsed without these materials.

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“The difference is we did so discreetly if we must have brought [construction] materials because for as long as the Chinese believe that the delivery consists only of water and food, then, they will not object,” said Roque.

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TAGS: Duterte, West Philippine Sea

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