Marcos: Gentleman’s agreement on South China Sea dispute deliberately kept secret

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos: Gentleman�s agreement on South China Sea dispute deliberately kept secret
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on February 8, 2024.
Pool photos by Noel Pabalete

WASHINGTON – The “gentleman’s agreement” on the South China Sea dispute forged by the Duterte administration and China was a “secret deal” deliberately hidden from the public, President Marcos said yesterday, as he raised a number of questions about the motive and compromises surrounding the move.

Marcos added that the previous administration did not inform him or his officials about the existence of the deal, which supposedly required the Philippines and China to maintain the status quo in the strategic sealane to ease tensions.

“Even during the transition from the Duterte administration to my administration, they did not inform us that we have (this ‘gentleman’s agreement’), that we should listen to it because it was promised to our friends in China,” the President told reporters here.

He said he has three questions on the supposed agreement, namely, whether such a deal exists, what its contents were and why it was kept under wraps.

Of the three questions, only the first one has been answered, according to Marcos, noting that the Chinese embassy in the Philippines revealed that Beijing and Manila had reached such an agreement.

In a recent statement, the embassy said the deal had effectively helped maintain the overall peace and stability in Ayungin Shoal, which China calls Ren’ai Jiao.

The embassy added that the Philippines followed the deal in the beginning of Marcos’ presidency, but ceased to do so beginning in February last year.

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