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Roque: Next President should follow Duterte’s China policy

UniTeam senatorial aspirant Harry Roque that the country would have lost all its occupied territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to China without President Rodrigo Duterte’s timely foreign policy intervention.

Roque urged Duterte’s successor to replicate the country’s diplomacy of goodwill with China to deescalate diplomatic tensions since both states claim sovereignty over the disputed Spratly Group of Islands.

“If Mr. Duterte did not become our President, China would have already kicked us out from our occupied islands. Thanks to our President’s unique diplomatic style and personal friendship with President Xi Jinping, China did not push through with it,” Roque said.

“While the President successfully prevented China’s takeover of the disputed Spratly Islands, I am not sure if our next President would be able to maintain the same degree of goodwill between China and the Philippines,” he also said.

The international law expert also revealed advising presidential front-runner Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. to think of a sound China policy that would hew closely to President Duterte’s policy.

Roque said if Marcos is elected President, the latter should study the personal relationship that Duterte cultivated with Xi to ensure stable bilateral ties and reduce the military flashpoint in WPS since 2016.

He appeared in a one-on-one interview with the President, which aired on PTV-4 last Sunday. The President asked for Roque’s advice on international and national issues, including the West Philippine Sea.

The former presidential spokesman said he has a classified document detailing China’s roadmap to become a maritime superpower by 2025, particularly in the WPS.

According to Roque, the Chinese document includes a phase-by-phase exclusion of other claimant countries like the Philippines from China’s so-called municipal waters in the Spratly archipelago.

“It seems China was taken aback by Duterte’s brand of diplomacy, which advanced friendly bilateral ties through trade and industry while finding ways to resolve the WPS territorial dispute,” Roque said.

The former partly-list representative said the incoming President has no recourse but to follow Duterte’s example “because the Philippines is no match to China’s military might.”

“We only have a token military presence in the islands we occupy. Neither do we possess modern military weapons,” Roque stressed.

He continued, “Despite our Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States, the Americans did not lift any finger when we lost Panganiban Reef in 1995 and Panatag Shoal in 2012. Since going to war is illegal and unrealistic, our only option is to sustain the President’s style of diplomacy.”

Roque has consistently supported Duterte’s stance to ensure that the WPS remains a sea of peace and prosperity with other claimant nations.

Countries like Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, and Vietnam also lay claim to the whole or part of the Spratlys.


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