PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte does not need to convene the National Security Council (NSC) to discuss the recent incident at Recto (Reed) Bank involving Filipino and Chinese fishermen, Malacañang said on Friday, June 28.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it was unnecessary to convene the NSC, since the Philippines and China are already dealing with the recent issue on the disputed waters through “diplomatic” negotiations.
“Unang-una, ‘yun ay ginagawa mo lang ‘yun kung mayroong crisis. Wala naman tayong crisis eh. Ang gusto nga nila, magkaroon tayo ng crisis, ‘yung mga kritiko kasi by pursuing their line of aggressive isolationist policy, eh talagang magkakaroon tayo ng crisis,” Panelo told Palace reporters in a chance interview.
(First and foremost, you only convene the NSC, if there is a crisis. There is no crisis. Critics only want to have crisis, because by pursuing their line of aggressive isolationist policy, we will really experience crisis.)
“Eh ngayon, wala eh. Maganda nga ang usapan. Nakita mo, ang ganda ng trade relations natin. Nadadala na natin sa pakiusapan through diplomatic channels. ‘Yun ang pinu-punto ni Presidente,” he added.
(Now, there is no crisis. The talks are doing well. As you see, we have good trade relations with China. So the negotiations can be done through diplomatic channel. That is the President’s stance.)
In the wake of supposed ramming and abandonment of a Filipino boat by a Chinese vessel, Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday, June 27, called on Duterte to “have a little backbone.”
Gordon’s statement came after the President said Wednesday, June 26, that he cannot assert the Philippines’ sovereignty over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Duterte also insisted that he cannot drive away the Chinese fishermen within the Philippine waters, as it would only sow tension between Manila and Beijing.
Some 22 Filipino fishermen were left at sea by the Chinese trawler after sinking their anchored boat at Recto Bank on June 9. They were later rescued by a passing Vietnamese vessel.
Gordon urged the President to convene the NSC to address China’s reported activities within the Philippines’ EEZ.
Following the allision of Filipino and Chinese boats at Recto Bank, Panelo expressed confidence that Beijing would avoid repeat of such incident at the disputed waters.
“I think the Chinese President (Xi Jinping) was being also practical. I don’t think he also wants that to happen. Kaya nga he wants to avoid it also, which is the better way in dealing with problems of conflicts,” Panelo said.
“Since may nangyari na insidente, I’m sure both sides will be avoiding occurrences of this nature,” the Palace official added. (SunStar Philippines)