PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has declined calls for him to convene the National Security Council and will instead invite former Philippine presidents from whom he wants to hear their individual insights hounding the issues on the West Philippine Sea.
“There’s no date yet. The President was considering the idea of inviting former presidents as an alternative to convening the National Security Council. Still in the process of consideration,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque told reporters.
Roque, however, did not say whether former President Benigno Aquino, to whom Duterte has been passing all the blame he has been getting over the Chinese incursion at the WPS, would be invited to form part of the panel of guests.
The President has repeatedly blamed the Aquino administration for Beijing’s seizure of Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales province and is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
According to the Palace mouthpiece, Duterte rejected former Senator Rodolfo Biazon’s proposal to convene the National Security Council amid heightened tension between Manila and Beijing, saying the council has not resolved any issues based on his experience.
The NSC, which is composed of national security advisors and Cabinet officials, serves as the principal forum of the Philippine president on matters involving national security and foreign policy.
“I mentioned it to the President, but he said the problem was that the National Security Council did not resolve any issues during the times when he had attended its meetings,” Roque said.
“That’s why he thought of inviting former presidents to discuss the West Philippine Sea issue,” the official added.
Biazon has suggested an assembly among military officials, leaders of Congress, and diplomats to form a united stand in the West Philippine Sea, saying the administration’s “confusing” stance on the matter may push China into adopting a more aggressive posture in the contested waters.