MANILA – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. has agreed with the decision of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to push ahead with infrastructure projects backed by Chinese firms that have been blacklisted by the United States, Malacañang said Thursday.
Although Locsin initially recommended terminating deals with Chinese firms involved in reclamation activities in the South China Sea, Roque said Locsin eventually concurred with Duterte because the President spoke as the “chief architect of foreign policy.”
Roque said he saw “no inconsistency” between the standpoints of Locsin and the President.
“After the President spoke, sumang-ayon naman po ang ating Secretary of Foreign Affairs. So sa tingin ko po, wala naman pong contradiction (our Secretary of Foreign Affairs agreed. So I think there’s no contradiction),” he said in a virtual Palace briefing.
Roque said Locsin agreed that even if Chinese firms were allowed to continue operating in the country, the government would still continue filing diplomatic protests against China for their continued militarization of the disputed sea.
“Well, ang nabasa ko po sa peryodiko kanina, sinabi niya na tama naman po ang posisyon ng ating Presidente kasi kapag kinansela natin ang mga kontratang iyan ay madidemanda na naman tayo sa isang international forum. So nagsasang-ayon naman po ang ating Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Well, I read from the newspaper, he [Locsin] said our President’s stance is correct because if we cancel the contract, we will be charged again in an international forum. So, our Secretary of Foreign Affairs agreed),” he said.
Meanwhile, Roque said he had no knowledge as to whether the President ever chided Locsin for making public statements against his stance but suggested that Duterte did not really mind.
“I have no information po kasi ang Presidente naman ay walang personalan po iyan (because the President doesn’t take it personally),” he said.
On Wednesday, Roque said he did not see the Philippines copying the US decision to blacklist Chinese firms to show that it does not condone Beijing’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea.
Washington imposed sanctions against China’s state-owned enterprises and visa restrictions on individuals behind the dredging and militarization of the disputed features in the South China Sea.
Roque said the government is already “satisfied” by raising the Hague-based arbitral court’s 2016 decision, which invalidates China’s vast claims on the contested territory.
“There is already a decision there that the Philippines has sovereign rights where they build the artificial islands and that means that whoever built those artificial islands had no legal basis to do so and we’re satisfied with that decision,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
He assured that the government is not abandoning the Philippines’ historic arbitration victory against China.
Duterte’s priority is to pursue national interest, which includes completing all projects under its “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, Roque said. (PNA)