MALACAÑANG warded off criticisms that saw a divided standpoint among government officials even as the Palace mouthpiece claimed that Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin has already apologized to the Chinese government for spewing profanity in a tweet blasting the presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea.
In a press briefing, president spokesperson Harry Roque claims to have talked to the DFA boss whom he claims to have told him about the apology, adding that what Locsin posted on social media is more of his personal standpoint.
“Personal na pananaw po iyon. Hindi po ito polisiya ng Pilipinas,” Roque said in apparent reference to Locsin’s tweet telling Chinese ships to “get the f— out” of Philippine waters.
“Personal po siyang nag-apologize sa Chinese ambassador. Sa diplomacy, walang lugar ang pagmumura,” averred Roque.
Asked if Locsin was made to apologize out of pressure from Malacañang, Roque insisted that Locsin made the apology “on his own” without pressure or order from Duterte.
Without any particular name being dragged, Duterte earlier said the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China is not a reason for Filipinos to be “rude and disrespectful.” The statement was made shortly after Locsin and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana issued strong statements against the continued presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea
“Sabi ng Presidente sa gabinete, ang Presidente lang ang puwede magmura. Walang puwedeng gumaya sa kanya [nobody should imitate him],” he added.
In a July 2016 ruling, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration already rejected China’s claim of sovereignty in the entire South China Sea, a portion of which the Philippines calls West Philippine Sea.
The same Hague court decision, which stemmed from a case filed by the Philippines against China in 2013, also ruled that the Spratlys Islands, Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank are within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.