By Elyjah Rosales

PHOTO: Presidential Communications

As usual, Malacañang was quick to back up President Rodrigo Duterte’s obvious inclination with China on his recent blabbers as something a “good neighbor” does. 

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, remained firm in an interview that it is not a sign of being “soft” even if it does look like one.

"Ang ginagawa lang naman po ni Presidente ay nakikipagmabuting kapitbansa sa bansang Tsina dahil sa gustuhin at ayaw natin, talaga namang kapitbansa natin iyan ‘no," he told in the government’s television network.

"Sabi nga nila, kinakailangang makipagkasundo sa kapitbahay, maski hindi ka makipagkasundo sa kamag-anak ‘no. Importante po talaga na magkaroon tayo ng mainit na pagsasama sa ating mga kapitbansa in the same way na importante iyong pagiging mabuting kapitbahay natin sa ating mga lokalidad,” Roque added.

This has drawn flak after Duterte slammed United States (US) anew for the “compensation” they need to pay in making the Philippines a “valid military target” because of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The spokesperson even cited that the country only received $3.9 billion while Pakistan got $16.4 billion as based on a Washington counterterrorism spending study.

“We think we should get something similar or close to that amount, but definitely not the amount we are currently getting,” he demanded.

“For now, what the President wants is if you want to continue using our territory, we want just compensation for it — hindi barya, hindi bulok na mga equipment,” furthered Roque.

To date, PH is still caught up with the West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute as the government has yet to take necessary actions in protecting the country’s sovereignty “to avoid any confrontation.”