By Deighton Acuin


President Rodrigo Duterte did not promise to retake the West Philippine Sea and only vowed to tell China to heed with the sovereign rights of the Philippines, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“I think the President should be construed literally. Hindi niya pinangako na maibabalik niya yung mga teritoryong nawala sa atin dahil sa kagagawan ng ibang tao at ibang administrasyon. Pero mga sinasabi niya, he will ask China to honor sovereignty and sovereign rights na ginagawa naman po niya,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a media presser.

“Pero I think the President was clear, hindi siya nangako na mababawi yung mga teritoryo na nawala na sa atin. Even the jet ski, ang sabi lang naman niya sasabihan niya ang China na umalis. Pero hindi niya ipinangako na yung nawalang Scarborough Shoal ay mapapaalis niya ang mga Tsino roon,” Roque added.

Roque’s remark came after Duterte said in his weekly address that he never promised to retake the contested territories when he filed a candidacy for president in 2016 national elections.

Being criticized for being “soft” to China, Duterte said having a conflict is not a reason to being “rude and disrespectful” as they remain as the Philippine “benefactor.”

Earlier, the President said the country owed a “debt of gratitude” for China’s commitments to ship COVID-19 vaccines. After Duterte’s statements, Malacañang defended it, saying it does not mean that the government will give up its authority on the West Philippine Sea.

RELATED ARTICLE: Philippine Daily Inquirer