PH amid APEC Summit: South China Sea? Next question, please
MANILA, Philippines – Vowing to be a “perfect host” to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Philippines dodged questions on the disputed South China Sea during a key regional summit here.
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose was asked on Wednesday, November 18, about how the Philippines’ new strategic partnership with Vietnam could help in resolving issues involving the South China Sea.
Jose replied, “Uh, ibang question? (Uh, other questions?)"
Reporters interviewed Jose on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit hosted by the Philippines. This happened at the APEC International Media Center, housed in the World Trade Center in Pasay City.
The DFA spokesman evaded the question in the context of the Philippines’ promise to become hospitable to Xi.
Marciano Paynor Jr, director general of the APEC National Organizing Council, said it best in an interview with Rappler: “Don’t offend your guest.”
'Huwag na nating umpisahan'
Following this cardinal rule, Jose stood his ground in media interviews.
A minute after Jose was first asked about the South China Sea, another reporter posed a question about the disputed waters.
This time, it was about Xi’s statement during the APEC CEO summit in Manila.
The reporter quoted Xi as saying countries should resolve disputes through dialogue. She asked for the DFA’s reaction in the context of the dispute over the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
Jose answered, “‘Pag inumpisahan ko ‘to, tuluy-tuloy na ‘to eh. Huwag na nating umpisahan ang South China Sea (If I start to talk about this, this will go on and on. Let’s not start talking about the South China Sea)."
The DFA spokesman then started walking away.
Xi, in any case, had to endure an “awkward” moment with the Philippine president on Wednesday. – Rappler.com