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Monday, June 24, 2024

Marcos says he’s ‘horrified’ by the idea of a secret deal with China over the West Philippine Sea

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President Marcos on Wednesday said he was horrified by the idea of a “gentleman’s agreement” with China regarding the country’s territorial waters.

“I am horrified by the idea that we have compromised — through a secret agreement — the territory, the sovereignty, and the sovereign rights of the Filipinos,” Mr. Marcos said in an ambush interview in San Juan.

He said the administration has no idea of the alleged agreement between former President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the West Philippine Sea.

“We don’t know if it’s a secret agreement. We don’t know anything about it. There is no documentation, there is no record, there is no– we were not briefed when I came into office. No one even told us that there was such an agreement,” Mr. Marcos said.

Asked if he has a plan to talk with his predecessor, the chief executive said his administration has been discussing the matter with former officials.

“We’re talking to his former officials. Maybe not the president himself but all his former officials, we are asking them what that (agreement) is,” he said.

He, however, said he has not received a straight answer from former officials.

“We’re trying to clear it up to now because from the former administration, iba-iba ang sagot, eh,” the President said.

The President vowed to clear things up with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xillian.

“We still have to clear it up. We’re waiting for Ambassador Huang to come back from Beijing…and I’ll ask to see him baka siguro sa pagbalik na,” he said.

Earlier, Duterte’s former chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo denied the existence of any “gentleman’s agreement.”

Panelo squarely contradicted the statement of Duterte’s former spokesperson, Harry Roque, that a verbal deal was reached between the two leaders to maintain the status quo in Ayungin Shoal.

“There’s no such animal,” Panelo said.

“This is what President Duterte said: ‘I did not enter into any gentleman’s agreement whatsoever,’” he added.

However, in a Facebook post, Roque shot back at those who seemed to have forgotten the “gentleman’s agreement to maintain the status quo on the West Philippine Sea.”

“For those who have forgotten, now you know,” Roque wrote in his caption to a link to a Reuters story, “Philippines says China agrees on no new expansion in South China Sea.”

But Panelo said Duterte told him twice that no such deal existed.

He said the former President even raised the arbitral ruling to Xi during his first visit to China in 2016.

“We were surprised with the reaction of Xi. He said, ‘Do not forcet hat because if you force it, there will be trouble.’ We were shocked,” Panelo said.

“The President responded that if we cannot come to an agreement, let us at least have peace,” he said.

Panelo said he is willing to attend a Senate inquiry into the gentleman’s deal disclosed by Roque if he is asked to.

“If I am called to testify, why not?” Panelo said.

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