West Philippine Sea

Año: ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ with China harmful to PH interests, Constitution

Jairo Bolledo

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Año: ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ with China harmful to PH interests, Constitution

NATIONAL SECURITY CHIEF. National Security Adviser Eduardo Año is also co-vice chairperson of the NTF-ELCAC.


'If there is any such agreement, it is the responsibility of those responsible for it to explain it before the Filipino people but it is not and will never be binding upon this administration,' says National Security Adviser Eduardo Año

MANILA, Philippines – If proven true, the so-called “gentleman’s agreement” between former president Rodrigo Duterte and China is harmful to Philippine interests and the Constitution, National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año said on Saturday, April 20.

“The President has been very clear: This administration is not aware of any secret or gentleman agreement and if there was such done under a previous administration, the same has been rescinded,” said Año.

“Moreover, any such agreement, if proven to be true, are inimical to the national interest and the Constitution. If there is any such agreement, it is the responsibility of those responsible for it to explain it before the Filipino people but it is not and will never be binding upon this administration,” he added.

Año reiterated the Marcos government’s position amid what he called discussions on the subject supposedly intended to sow divisions among Filipinos.

“The persistent discourse about alleged, unsubstantiated or imaginary promises; of secret non-binding gentleman agreement or deals has been used to create  distractions, divisions, and conflict among our people,” Año said.

“We should not fall  into a trap which clearly seeks to sow division in our country and weaken our resolve in asserting our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the West Philippine  Sea,” he said.

Año was a member of the Duterte Cabinet. After retiring from the military as Armed Forces chief in 2017, Duterte appointed him an undersecretary, then later as chief, of the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Marcos had earlier said, in response to media questions, that Año was not part of the Duterte government’s discussions with China on Ayungin Shoal.

According to Duterte’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, the former administration supposedly agreed with China to keep the status quo in the territorial waters. Under the deal, only basic supplies, and not building materials, would be sent to the BRP Sierra Madre, the old Philippine Navy ship that serves as the country’s military outpost in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal), in the West Philippine Sea.

The Chinese embassy and Duterte confirmed this “verbal” agreement.

Año: ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ with China harmful to PH interests, Constitution

The so-called deal is contrary to the 2016 arbitral ruling that Ayungin Shoal is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Earlier this month, Marcos said he was “horrified by the idea” that his predecessor had compromised the territory, sovereignty, and sovereign rights of the Filipinos through an alleged secret deal, which was not relayed to them when they took over from the Duterte administration in mid-2022.

Marcos later said he had several questions to his predecessor, including why he kept it secret from the Filipino people and what the agreement entailed.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva had labeled the so-called agreement as “Chinese propaganda.”Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.