West Philippine Sea

Marcos defends Sara Duterte’s silence on China aggression in West PH Sea


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Marcos defends Sara Duterte’s silence on China aggression in West PH Sea

TOP LEADERS. File photo shows President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte during Brigada Eskwela in August 2023.

Presidential Communications Office

'That’s not the role of the Vice President or the secretary of education to talk about China,' President Marcos says in an interview with Philippine media in Washington

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has defended Vice President Sara Duterte from criticism about her silence over China’s aggression against Philippine government vessels and fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea.

Marcos said in an interview with Philippine media in Washington, where he had attended a trilateral summit with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, that the China issue is not within the scope of Duterte’s job as vice president and education secretary.

“That’s not the role of the Vice President or the secretary of education to talk about China,” Marcos said on Friday, April 12 (US time).

Duterte’s silence over the issue amid the Marcos administration’s strong condemnation of a series of Chinese actions in the West Philippine Sea has further fueled the observed split of the Uniteam, the 2022 election coalition that led the Marcos-Duterte tandem to victory.

Marcos said in the interview that if the Vice President had any serious concerns about the government’s approach to the West Philippine Sea issue, especially in relation to China, she would have told him directly since she is part of his administration.

“I’m very sure that if Inday Sara had some very serious misgivings about what we are doing in terms of foreign policies, she would bring that to me,” Marcos said.

“And, wala naman siyang [sinabi]. Ang pinag-uusapan nga namin, sabi niya, ‘Basta ako trabaho lang ako nang trabaho,’ sabi niyang ganoon (She hasn’t [said anything]. When we talk, she says, ‘As for me, I just continue to do my work.’) That’s a good policy. So, I don’t think it is something that we need to be concerned with,” he added.

On April 8, the Vice President was asked about the country’s sea dispute with China but only said, “No comment.” She said that the previous statement of her brother, Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, in relation to her silence over the issue was “comprehensive.”

On March 27, Paolo Duterte had said that it was not her sister’s job to “demonize China or any country for that matter.” This was in response to Akbayan’s statement questioning the Vice President’s continued silence on the issue.

Sara and Paolo’s father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, had pursued a pivot to China under what he called the “independent foreign policy” of his administration. It was during his term when he reportedly entered into a “gentleman’s agreement” with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the issue of Ayungin Shoal which China had cited to justify its actions in the West Philippine Sea.

China’s continued aggression in the South China Sea was one of the major agenda at the historic first trilateral summit of the leaders of the Philippines, the US, and Japan in Washington. At that meeting, the Philippines expressed its determination to assert its sovereign rights in the South China Sea. – Rappler.com

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