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Duterte draws flak for remarks on China

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte and People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping pose for a photo following a bilateral meeting at the Boao State Guesthouse on April 10, 2018. — ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

MALACAÑANG on Wednesday said it expects the Philippines’ allies in Asia, including the People’s Republic of China, to defend President Rodrigo R. Duterte against “Western” destabilizers.

Mr. Duterte drew controversy when he said on Tuesday that “China will never allow the Philippines to be destroyed.”

He made his remarks in Casiguran, Aurora, when he declared the Philippine Rise east of Luzon a marine-protected area. His critics said he was defending the wrong side of the archipelago.

He also said Chinese President Xi Jinping assured him that China “will not allow (Mr. Duterte) to be taken out of office.”

“[China] will not allow the Philippines to go to the dogs,” Mr. Duterte also said.

When sought for comment, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said, “Ang konteksto no’n siguro ay kung magtatangka ang mga kaputian na ‘yan na… patalsikin siya sa pwesto… maasahan n’ya ang mga kaalyado niya dito sa Asya na tutulong.”

(The context [of the President’s remarks], perhaps, is if the West attempts to remove him from office, it can be expected that his allies here in Asia will help him.)

Asked if the remarks attributed to Mr. Jinping amounted to intervention, Mr. Roque said this can only be seen as such “if the Philippines,” as an independent state, “does not want it.”

Several Senators expressed disapproval over the remarks.

“God help the Philippines, because we are a sovereign country and only the Filipinos can determine or decide ano ang dapat natin gawin (what we should do),” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said, adding: “At least may ally tayo pero to decide on the fate of our leaders? Hindi na dapat yun kasi sovereign tayo, Filipino people lang ang dapat mag-decide.” (At least we have an ally but to decide on the fate of our leaders? That shouldn’t be because we are sovereign, only the Filipino people should decide.)

For his part, Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva said China may help the Philippines in dealing with drug issues that are linked between the two countries.

“If they really are sincere, dapat hindi lang kay President (it shouldn’t only be with the President). If they are a friend of the Philippines, through the President, dapat tulungan din nila tayo sa drugs (they should help us on the drug problem),” he said. “Majority of the supply of drugs comes from China. Hindi ako naniniwala kayang itigil yun eh (They wouldn’t be able to stop it).”

Opposition Senator Franklin M. Drilon, for his part, said: “We should be able to stand on our democracy on our own without the aid of any external help.”

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian echoed Mr. Drilon’s statement, saying: “Ang pulitika (Politics) is an exclusive sovereign power of our country.”

“Walang bansa na pwedeng makialam kung ano ang takbo ng ating pulitika (No country should interfere with how our politics is run),” he added. — with Gillian M. Cortez