By Deighton Acuin


Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has the authorization to speak about the West Philippine Sea dispute aside from Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., said President Rodrigo Duterte.

In the first part of his “Talk to The People Program” aired Monday night, Duterte ordered other Cabinet members against discussing the territorial issue with anybody.

“That’s my order now to the Cabinet and to all, all and sundry, yung ano, talking for the government, to refrain discussing itong West Philippine Sea with anybody. If we have to talk, we talk, tayo tayo lang (only among us), and there is one spokesman si Sec. Harry [Roque] would do it. Now you get the picture,” he said.

Duterte’s remarks came after Roque was criticized for his claim that the Julian Felipe Reef, which according to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) is well within the exclusive economic zone, had “never” been under Philippine possession.

This position did not sit well with Locsin by saying that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) still has the final decision on the matter.

But, Roque said that he already talked with Locsin and there is no bad blood between them.

It was on March 7 this year when 220 Chinese militia vessels were spotted anchoring in the reef that prompted the DFA and the Department of National Defense (DND) to filing series of diplomatic protests against China.