Palace slams Robredo for “misplaced” remarks vs Duterte over handling of S. China Sea dispute

(Eagle News)–The Palace has slammed Vice President Leni Robredo for what it said was her “misplaced” remark against President Rodrigo Duterte on the arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Duterte’s statement he was setting aside the ruling that invalidated China’s nine-dash line that demarcates its expansive claims in the sea meant he was merely focusing first on what would benefit the people, while pushing forward with negotiations with China on the disputed waters.

“Notwithstanding this impasse with China on our territorial conflict, wisdom, prudence and pragmatism dictate that we forge in strengthening our foreign relations on uncontested matters that will invariably provide mutual benefit to our countries. Of particular note is the joint exploration of our natural resources in the West Philippine Sea,” Panelo said.

Panelo said “as  matter of sound foreign policy, our difference with China, or with any other country for the matter, cannot be the sum total of our relationship with it or with any other.”

According to the spokesperson, Robredo should be “circumspect in issuing statements on the matter and rely more on her instinct as a lawyer and mother protective of those she is constitutionally tasked to shepherd.”

He noted that “like the usual detractors and critics of the President, VP Robredo may have been carried away by their nitpicking and habitual engagement in useless and unproductive semantics.”

“What is ‘profoundly disappointing and extremely irresponsible,’ to borrow her words, is her evolving penchant of finding fault in every word the President says, as well as issuing misplaced and flamboyant remarks against it,” Panelo added.

Earlier,  the President said China had offered the Philippines a majority stake in the joint exploration deal if it set aside the arbitral ruling.

Duterte said the issue was  part of the ruling “which we will ignore to come up with an economic activity.”

Robredo called Duterte’s remark “profoundly disappointing and extremely irresponsible,” but Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin was quick to reiterate that the Philippines would not shelve the arbitral ruling.