Palace says China not ignoring Duterte on vessels in Julian Felipe Reef
Malacanang on Monday said the Chinese government is not ignoring President Rodrigo Duterte on the issue of alleged militia vessels in Julian Felipe Reef.
In a press briefing, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the "warm ties" between the Philippine and China is the reason why there are lesser Chinese vessels in the area.
"Let's not say that our President is being ignored because there are only 20 remaining vessels (in Julian Felipe Reef). And I think that 201 fishing vessels have already left and all because of the message of the President and the warm relations that we enjoy with China," Roque said.
Roque said when Duterte met with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xialian the number of Chinese ships in Julian Felipe Reef has decreased from 220 to 136 then down to 65.
Roque said they are hoping the remaining vessels will finally leave the area this month.
"We are still hoping that they (remaining ships) will leave the area," said Roque.
Asked for a reaction on Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr latest remark cursing China to get out of Julian Felipe Reef, Roque said they will not meddle with his freedom of speech.
In his Twitter account, Locsin said: ''China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see..... What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We're trying. You. You're like an ugly oaf forcing our attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend, not to father a Chinese province.'' Ella Dionisio/DMS