President Duterte said that Harry Roque was the sole spokesman for the West Philippine Sea issues.
President Rodrigo Duterte said that Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque was the sole spokesman for the West Philippine Sea issues.
After discussing the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China with former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, President Duterte ordered Cabinet members in his Talk to the People address on Monday night that they should refrain from talking about the issue with anybody.
“That’s my order now to the Cabinet and to all, all and sundry, yung ano, talking for the government, to refrain discussing itong West Philippines Sea with anybody. If we have to talk, we talk, tayo tayo lang, and there is one spokesman si Sec. Harry [Roque] would do it. Now you get the picture,” President Duterte said.
It was last May 11 when Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. emphasized that international diplomacy should exclusively be left to his department.
Locsin’s irritation followed Roque’s claim that the Julian Felipe Reef was too far away to be considered within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Meanwhile, Enrile suggested during the President’s Talk to the People briefing that the Philippines must continue dealing with China on the West Philippine Sea. Later on, President Duterte stressed that the Benham Rise was within the country’s jurisdiction, adding that he will not allow exploitation of resources there.
“Benham Rise is exclusively Philippine property. I will not allow any intrusion there. But to allow anybody to try to exploit it, I will not allow them to do that,” President Duterte said.
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