In this Jan. 9 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte shares a ight moment with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua as the latter accompanied the Communist Party of China Central Committee Member Meng Xiangfeng who met with the president in Malacañan Palace.
Presidential Photo/Yancy Lim
Palace: We can't and won't summon Chinese envoy over boat sinking
( - June 18, 2019 - 3:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — Contrary to the previous remarks of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Malacañang said Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua will not be summoned over the incident in Recto Bank.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo claimed that Malacañang cannot call the Chinese envoy over the sinking of a Filipino boat hit by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea.

"Wala naman tayo jurisdiction kay Ambassador (Zhao). We're not the government of China to summon an official of China," Panelo, a lawyer, said. Governments of host nations do sometimes summon the envoys of other nations.

It should be noted that the Palace summoned the American ambassador last year over an assessment report of the US Intelligence Community. US Ambassador Sung Kim was summoned to Malacañang in February 2018 to explain the World Threat Assessment report, which included Duterte as a regional threat.

In 2016, the Palace also summoned the Chinese envoy to explain reports of shipments illegal drugs coming in from China.

In 2014, Beijing summoned Ambassador Erlinda Basilio to lodge a "strong protest" over the Philippines' arbitration case at a Hague-based arbitration tribunal.

Palace: The word is 'invite'

According to Panelo, President Rodrigo Duterte is not inclined to do so. After being silent on the issue for almost a week, the president on Monday downplayed the incident to a "little maritime accident."

"The word is 'invite' but we feel, or the president, I think, is not inclined to do that since he feels China has already done what it should. The ambassador already gave a statement about seriously and cautiously studying the facts," Panelo said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Panelo added that inviting the Chinese envoy to Malacañang would appear that there has been a pre-judgment on the Philippine side.

He stressed that Duterte is cautiously treading on the incident as investigations are ongoing.

The president's statement on the incident is similar to the earlier pronouncements of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which called it an "ordinary maritime accident."

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