Palace says Duterte is ''very careful'' in handling collision incident in Recto Bank
Malacanang on Tuesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that he does not want the collision incident between a Philippine and Chinese vessel in the Recto Bank near the West Philippine Sea to be “blown into an international crisis”.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a press briefing said Duterte was very a cautious person and as a lawyer, he was trained to listen to all sides especially after few testimonies and statements showed adversarial claims on both sides.
“There are different versions (of the incident) that’s why he is very careful. He does not want this (to) blown into an international crisis given the fact? it took (us) long to change the relationship from the time of the previous administration,” said Panelo.
He said there will be implications once the situation is raised to an international crisis.
“Because when you said international, you really have a problem,” said Panelo.
“That’s why the president said 'Let’s wait for the facts. I really don’t know what happened',” he added.
He said Duterte only wants to protect the relationship he worked to restore with China.
“We can understand of course the outrage by our countrymen. We are all outraged because it looked like it was intentional. They rammed and abandoned. Naturally, we will react on that,” said Panelo.
On Monday, during the Philippine Navy anniversary, Duterte said he does not want to make a statement for now but called the incident a “maritime incident”.
“A maritime incident is a maritime incident. I will not issue a statement because there is no investigation and no result," he said.
The president said he is not ready to go to war with China.
What Duterte said is a “logical consequence” if there is conflict between two countries, added Panelo.
“We are witness to conflicts around the world that war happened when two nations are arguing. He doesn’t want to reach that (point),” he said.
“If we are aggressive, they are aggressive as well. Then there will be deaths so the president will be angry. He will not allow that. It’s like he is avoiding a bigger (problem),” he added.
On the statement of Senator Panfilo Lacson Jr. that the remarks of the president over the issue “left Filipinos heartbroken”, Panelo said the senator is “entitled” to his own opinion.
“We know where it’s coming from. But we will repeat: the President is cautious on treading on this particular incident. He wants, first, to establish facts,” he said.
“Some people are saying, “How come in Canada, he immediately attacked”? The difference on the two incidents is: the Canada (trash) is established facts. You cannot refute that… even the previous administration did not do anything that’s why he mad. But this (collision) incident, he still doesn’t not what are the true facts,” he explained.
Panelo said his statement does not mean he is not protecting the welfare of the Filipinos.
“He is just being careful because the repercussion of this is once we made a wrong move, a lot will be affected. Our overseas workers for one and our relationship with them. That’s why we have to be careful,” he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS