By Deighton Acuin and Archie Villaflores


Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday defended his remarks on issues of foreign affairs in the country, saying it would be hard to stay mum when he speaks for “chief foreign policy architect,” President Rodrigo Duterte.

Roque made the defense after Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. urged him to “lay off” the matters of foreign affairs as the official is “not competent” in the field.

“I am not listening to Harry Roque. Love the guy but he’s not competent in this field. We do not go back to The Hague. We might lose what we won. Harry, lay off,” Locsin said.

In an online Palace briefing, Roque said in jest: “I love him back, even more so. Tisoy kasi eh ‘no?”

“Anyway, ang sa akin naman po, the President is the chief architect of foreign policy pero hindi po tayo naghihimasok.”

“I think I was very clear that I was not intruding. Pero pasensya na po. [With the President] as chief architect of foreign policy, napakahirap naman po kung tayo ay tikom sa mga bagay-bagay na ito. But of course, we always defer to the line agency as far as actual policies to be implemented are concerned,” Roque went on.

Locsin made the tweet as he was triggered by Roque’s remark that the country could raise to United Nations Tribunal the concerns over the China’s new law allowing coast guard to fire foreign vessels on its claimed territories.

However, Roque noted the decision still lies on the DFA and other country’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Locsin has already filed a diplomatic protest against China’s new coast guard law, deeming it a “verbal threat of war to any country that defies” it.

But China’s Embassy in the Philippines hit what it termed as “false accusations” against the new China law. It insisted that China’s new coast guard law conforms to international conventions and is not specifically targeted at any certain country.

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