Sara Duterte

Sara Duterte on continued China bullying: No comment

Bonz Magsambol

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Sara Duterte on continued China bullying: No comment

Vice President Sara Duterte

Rappler file

The Vice President says her brother Davao City Congressman Paolo Duterte's statement – that it's not her job to 'demonize China' – is enough

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Sara Duterte broke her silence for the first time regarding continued Chinese harassment of Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). But instead of giving her thoughts about the growing tension, she said: “No comment.”

The Vice President made a brief statement on Monday, April 8, in an ambush interview when she was asked to react to the sea dispute. “I think the statement of Cong. Paolo Duterte about me and the West Philippine Sea is comprehensive,” she added.

On March 27, her brother, Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, said that it was not the job of the Vice President and the secretary of education to “demonize China or any country for that matter.” The lawmaker was reacting to an Akbayan party-list statement as to why the Vice President was mum on the issue.

“The question on the actions of Chinese vessels in the WPS should be directed to the chief architect of foreign policy, the Secretary of National Defense and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs,” he added.

The Vice President has been silent on the issue concerning national security, and yet she has openly defended doomsday preacher Apollo Quiboloy, who has been tagged as a fugitive by the National Bureau of Investigation. She has downplayed the sexual abuse and human trafficking charges filed against Quiboloy, describing the congressional probe as “unfair.”

The Duterte family is known to favor China. Former president Rodrigo Duterte made a pro-China pivot during his administration. (READ: Duterte’s ‘China pivot’ draws int’l reactions)

On the contrary, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has made a commitment to defend the country against China’s actions. He ordered to strengthen the Philippines’ maritime security through Executive Order 57, which renamed and reorganized the National Coast Watch Council into the National Maritime Council. (READ: What is EO 57, which bolsters PH maritime security amid China’s bullying?)

In a Pulse Asia survey released in January, eight in 10 Filipinos wanted the country to work with the United States to resolve the sea dispute.

In its latest intimidation, two China Coast Guard ships harassed Filipino fisherfolk as they installed payaos or local fish aggregating devices in the vicinity of Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.