Palace to Robredo: Be more circumspect in making statements vs Duterte
Malacañang hit on Friday Vice President Leni Robredo, saying she should be more circumspect in issuing statements against President Rodrigo Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Robredo said it was "irresponsible" for Duterte to set aside the arbitral ruling just to push for the joint oil and gas exploration with China.
"We hope that the Vice President will be more circumspect in issuing statements on the matter and rely more on her instinct as a lawyer and mother protective of those she is constitutionally tasked to shepherd," he said.
Panelo even urged Robredo to change her political advisers whom he claimed were unable to comprehend the complexities of the current situation with China.
"She may want to change them with some erudite intellectuals knowledgeable in geopolitics and in the art of diplomacy," he said.
Likening the Vice President to "usual detractors and critics" of the President, he said Robredo "may have been carried away by their nitpicking and habitual engagement in useless and unproductive semantics."
"What is 'profoundly disappointing and extremely irresponsible', to borrow her words, is her evolving penchant of finding fault in every word the President says, as well as issuing misplaced and flamboyant remarks against it," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
He reiterated that Duterte was not surrendering the Philippine rights over the West Philippine Sea.
"The arbitral ruling, as the President has repeatedly said, is final, binding and unappealable. It will be there forever and ever, as in forever. It has the permanence of the Rock of Gibraltar whose extinction can come only when there is a massive geographical movement of the earth’s surface," Panelo said.
"The President will not allow nor sit idly in silence respecting any action by the international community in derogation thereof. He is fiercely protective of the country’s sovereignty," he said.
Duterte has said Chinese President Xi Jinping has agreed to a 60-40 sharing in favor of the Philippines to conduct joint exploration in the South China Sea provided that they set aside the Hague ruling, invalidating China's vast claim in the disputed waters.
"What he meant when he said that he will first set aside the ruling is that he would first focus on exploring the possibility of getting something from the area that would benefit the Filipino people pending the continuing diplomatic and peaceful negotiation of our territorial dispute with China," Panelo said.
"Notwithstanding this impasse with China on our territorial conflict, wisdom, prudence and pragmatism dictate that we forge in strengthening our foreign relations on uncontested matters that will invariably provide mutual benefit to our countries. Of particular note is the joint exploration of our natural resources in the West Philippine Sea, which is outside the ambit of our difference with China over which our Constitution expressly allows," he said.
Panelo said it would be the "height of folly and naïveté" if the Philippines were to ignore areas of investment that the country badly needs to fuel its rapidly expanding growth. Celerina Monte/DMS