Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made this clear as he reiterated the administration’s position that it would not give up an inch of the country’s territory.
KJ Rosales/File
Palace denies government inaction on South China Sea dispute
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - July 17, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration acts swiftly but “quietly” on every act of violation of Philippine sovereignty by the Chinese, contrary to perceptions by a majority of Filipinos based on a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made this clear as he reiterated the administration’s position that it would not give up an inch of the country’s territory.

The SWS survey – conducted from June 27 to June 30 – showed four of every five Filipinos expressing belief the government was not doing enough to protest Chinese provocations in the West Philippine Sea.

“The government of President Duterte is not guilty of inaction,” Roque told radio station dzRH. “Whenever China does something that violates our sovereignty, we file protests but we do it quietly.”

Roque stressed the President would not quarrel with China over the dispute as doing so would not yield anything good for Manila-Beijing relations.

“He (Duterte) believes we can set aside temporarily the things that cannot be resolved immediately. We can pursue those that can be pursued like the economy,” he added.

The SWS polls found 81 percent of Filipinos not wanting the government to “leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence” in the West Philippine Sea.

The survey also showed 74 percent of respondents wanting the government to bring the issue to international organizations while 73 percent want “direct, bilateral negotiations between the Philippines and China.”

Meanwhile, 68 percent of Filipinos believe the government should ask other countries to mediate in the issue.

Roque said all Filipinos, not just 81 percent of them, should oppose inaction on the maritime dispute.

“It should be 100 percent because there is no government inaction... Five out of five Filipinos should protest inaction because it is not true that President Duterte is not doing anything,” the presidential spokesman said. 

“We are just not making noise but we have an immediate action if we think China is violating our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he added. 

Roque said Duterte, who has been accused of being too soft on China, is continuously fighting for the interests of the Philippines. 

Critics have accused Duterte of letting Chinese aggression go unanswered in exchange for military and economic assistance from Beijing.

Duterte has denied this and assured the public he would discuss the maritime row with Chinese officials within his term. The President has also admitted his concern over courting “trouble” if his administration insists on asserting the  country’s sovereignty over Chinese-held features in the West Philippine Sea.

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