Robredo: Imee Marcos 'insensitive' for saying PH started fight with China

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, April 14, slammed Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, a senatorial candidate, for her "insensitive" comment on the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China.

"Iyon talagang nakakadismaya.... Talagang napaka-insensitive. Nakakatakot na ganito iyong magiging senador," Robredo said on her weekly radio show.

(That's really disappointing.... Utterly insensitive. It would be scary to have a senator who thinks like that.)

In a television interview, Marcos claimed it was Manila that started the fight with Beijing. China claims ownership of virtually the entire South China Sea, including waters within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

Former president Benigno Aquino III, Robredo's ally, had brought China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague over the dispute. The arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has said more than 600 Chinese ships have circled Pag-asa Island since January, according to ABS-CBN News.

This corroborated an earlier report by the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative that China deployed Chinese militia to the vicinity of Pag-asa Island after the Philippines began constructing there.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr said he "fired off a salvo of diplomatic notes" against China over the issue. Locsin said he did this before undertaking his first official trip to China from March 18 to 21.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has adopted a friendlier stance toward China, downplaying a decades-long sea dispute in exchange for loans and grants from the Chinese. (READ: Made in China: Loan terms with waivers, shrouded in secrecy–

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email