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Monday, May 27, 2024

Rody admits Ayungin pact with Xi

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Former President Rodrigo Duterte disclosed on Thursday that he came to an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to maintain the “status quo” within the West Philippine Sea. This particular “status quo” means no movement or armed activity within the disputed areas, including the delivery of materials for the conservation of BRP Sierra Madre.

“Aside from the fact of having a handshake with President Xi Jinping, the only thing I remember was status quo. That’s the word na walang galawan — no movement, no armed patrols there…para walang magkagulo, hindi tayo magkagulo. Yun ang naaalala ko. I do not even know the Ayungin Shoal,” he said.

“I assure you that if it was a gentleman’s agreement, it would always have been an agreement that would keep the peace in the South China Sea,” he added.

The former chief executive said that part of the agreement is the decision not to bring any construction materials for the upkeep and maintenance of BRP Sierra Madre anchored along Ayungin Shoal.

He said, “As is where is nga. You cannot bring in materials to repair and improve. No agreement, as is where is. Kasi kung Sierra Madre pa lang, if allowed, matagal nang repaired yan. Nakauwi na yan dito.”

On Wednesday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he was “horrified” by the supposed “gentleman’s agreement” between his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping on what should and should not happen along the West Philippine Sea.

“I am horrified at the idea that we have compromised through a secret agreement the territory, sovereignty, and sovereign rights of the Philippines,” said Marcos, who addressed the issue for the first time.

Marcos admitted that he was not briefed on the details of the said agreement by officials of the former administration. Marcos said there was neither documentation nor record of it having transpired.

“We were not briefed about when I came into office. No one told us there was such deal,” he said.

Meanwhile, former President Rodrigo Duterte did not take kindly to President Marcos Jr.’s pro- United States stance, calling the latter a “crybaby,” more so after Marcos expressed disapproval of the “gentleman’s agreement” Duterte had with Chinese leader Xi Jinping regarding Ayungin Shoal.

Duterte said of Marcos Jr., ”You are a crybaby, always America, America, America… And you call yourself, you call our place Republic of the Philippines?” Marcos recently traveled to Washington DC for a trilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Duterte said during a late-night news conference held in Davao City that he conceded nothing to China at the time he sat as President.

Duterte, however, admitted to not disrupting the “status quo,” which came in the form of a gentleman’s agreement between him and the Chinese leader. Part of the agreement, he said, is the refusal of his administration to bring construction materials for the upkeep of BRP Sierra Madre.

To recall, it was Duterte’s former spokesperson, Harry Roque, who divulged the “gentleman’s deal” between Duterte and Xi Jinping. The statement came in the heels of a show of aggression against Philippine vessels by Chinese ships.

Roque admitted that he learned about the said agreement after Duterte summoned the Chinese ambassador shortly after a series of water canon incidents. It was the Chinese ambassador who reminded Duterte of his verbal “gentleman’s agreement” to keep the status quo.

Duterte said, “There might have been exchange of control over the China Sea, but those were really territorial in nature, not involving the encroachment of China in an exclusive economic zone. Iba yon… Nobody but nobody in the Philippines today, either the Supreme Court, the presidency or Congress can concede anything about territories. Hindi gawain ng presidente yan,”

He added that despite “being oppressed by China,” the Philippines “cannot afford a war at this time” with Beijing.

Duterte on Thursday also criticized retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for the latter’s disapproval of how the former administration handled the issue surrounding the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said that if China decides to erect a naval base in the disputed islands, no one can contest it. “This is easier said than done,” Duterte said, “What can you do? Justice Carpio, answer me!”

Carpio, however, insisted that Duterte should “tell the truth to the Filipino people.” “Besides,” Carpio added, “If the agreement only allows food and drinks into the disputed waters for BRP Sierra Madre, in the long haul that ship would sink without maintenance. If that happens, there will be no one to stop China from entering. We would lose our outpost.”

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