China may reply to Philippine protest in Belt and Road Forum
Malacanang on Thursday said China may answer the country’s diplomatic protest on their vessels spotted near the Philippine territory during the Belt and Road forum this month.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Chinese President Xi Jinping may respond to the Philippines' protest during his bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I don’t know if he will raise that (protest) but my educated guess is since we raised that they may respond to that during bilateral talks,” said Panelo.
The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest over the presence of Chinese ships in Pag-Asa Island, on March 29, news reports quoting a Department of Foreign Affairs official said.
He said it can only take few days before China responds to the diplomatic protest the Philippines filed and their response will be Philippines' basis in addressing the issue.
“When you deliver a note verbale or a protest of course they will have to study also what would be their response,” said Panelo.
The presidential spokesperson revealed receiving a call from Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua but failed to answer it because of his meetings.
Panelo said in his previous meetings with the Chinese ambassador, Zhao said he appreciates the action of the Duterte administration on not immediately giving negative reaction on the situation.
“He appreciates the action of the government of not immediately reacting negatively in whatever report it receives vis-a-vis China’s action,” he said.
“We validate first before we respond. That’s why I said we are always studied response which means we validate (the information) first,” he added.
Panelo said the country is just reciprocating the kindness China is giving but he added that China must also be friendly to the Philippines and leave its territory.
“(We are) diplomatically kind to them with respect to whatever action they are doing. At the same time asserting our sovereignty and our determination not for any foreign country to intrude into our sovereignty,” he said.
“We supposed to be friends and as the president says friends don’t do that. If we are friends, we should be friendly in terms of our action,” he said.
In an ambush interview after his briefing, Panelo clarified the country is not being too kind with China.
“We are demanding them to leave the place. In other words, we are kind but when it comes with respect to sovereignty, it’s a different topic,” he said.
“They should tell us exactly why they are there and why. What are they doing there in the first place?” he said.
Panelo said it will be up to President Rodrigo Duterte and Foreign Secretary Teodor Locsin Jr. on what they will do if China did not respond to the protest.
“They will be the one to give the ultimatum,” he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS