Duterte on deal with China: As is, where is

Emmanuel Tupas, Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Diana Lhyd Suelto, Nillicent Bautista - The Philippine Star
Duterte on deal with China: As is, where is
Former president Rodrigo Duterte holds a press conference streamed on SMNI’s ‘Gikan sa Masa, para sa Masa’ on Thursday night.

MANILA, Philippines — After President Marcos said he was “horrified” by a secret deal on the West Philippine Sea (WPS), former president Rodrigo Duterte has broken his silence on the issue – and tossed in insults directed at his successor.

 In a press conference Thursday night, Duterte clarified his agreement with China on the WPS, denying that he conceded Philippine territory, but admitting that he agreed not to have repairs done on the BRP Sierra Madre, which is marooned on Ayungin Shoal.

Duterte said what he had with China’s President Xi Jinping was a “handshake” sealing their agreement of maintaining a status quo over the disputed territory, or “as is, where is.”

Duterte would not call it a “gentleman’s agreement,” as described by his former spokesman.

He explained that by status quo, both the Philippines and China agreed not to make any movements and armed patrols in the waters as a way to avoid conflict.

“I assure you if it was a gentleman’s agreement, it would have been an agreement that would keep the peace in the South China Sea,” he added.

Duterte stressed that he did not concede anything to China.

“That is not the duty of a president,” he said.

Duterte also said that he once told the Chinese president of the government’s plan to conduct a research mission on the Philippine side of the South China Sea to find oil but was told not to do it.

“Do not do it because there will be trouble,” Duterte recalled Xi telling him.

The former chief executive said that while there was no written agreement, he had a verbal agreement with the Chinese leader not to fix the BRP Sierra Madre which he honored because he did not want to go into war with China.

Duterte then challenged President Marcos to “stop complaining” and to “go do it and repair it.”

“If with him this will not break into a war because of the presence of the US Navy, then do it. You have the ironclad guarantee of the US navy that they will all die for the Philippines,” he added.

Duterte also said he does not know where former Palace spokesman Harry Roque got his information about the gentleman’s agreement as he was not there during the meeting with China.


The supposed “gentlemen’s agreement” entered into by Duterte with China puts the Philippines at an “extreme disadvantage,” according to retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio.

“Duterte agreed that the only things we could send to Sierra Madre were food or water but not construction or repair materials,” Carpio said in an interview.

“Without construction supplies, Sierra Madre will sink because it needs constant repair. If it sinks we will no longer have a presence, and China can now enter. That’s why we’re extremely at a disadvantage because we will lose our presence there,” he added.

Carpio pointed out that Duterte entered into a gentlemen’s agreement even after the arbitral award already stated that Ayungin Shoal is part of the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Another document – the Declaration of Conduct – similarly states the Philippines has a right to Ayungin Shoal.

“We have two legal documents saying that we are the only one authorized to build structures in (Ayungin). We have two strong documents. Why did he give it away?” Carpio lamented. “We are at a disadvantage here. That’s against national interest.”

No impeach raps

Despite the gentlemen’s agreement being a “culpable violation” of the Constitution, Carpio said Duterte can no longer be charged or impeached.

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