PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has expressed intent to meet with former presidents to discuss issues concerning the highly-contested West Philippine Sea (WPS), Malacañang said on Thursday.
“Iniisip niya (Duterte) imbitahin ang mga dating mga Presidente, ilang mga personalidad para magkaroon ng isang pagpupulong ‘no to discuss the issue (He is considering inviting former presidents, other personalities for a meeting to discuss the issue [on WPS]),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press conference.
The planned meeting between Duterte and his predecessors is an “alternative” to convening the National Security Council (NSC), Roque said.
Duterte, Roque said, has yet to set the date for his possible meeting with the country’s past chief executives.
“The President is considering the idea of an alternative to convening the National Security Council. Pero ‘yun po (However, that is) still in the process of consideration,” Roque said.
Roque issued the statement after Duterte met with former senator Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday to seek his advice on matters related to the WPS issue.
He also made the remarks, after former senator Rodolfo Biazon urged Duterte to convene NSC to come up with a “clear and united” stance on the Philippines’ long-standing disputes with China in WPS.
Biazon made the call, as he lamented that Philippine officials have “confusing” positions on the WPS issue.
Roque, however, denied the government is issuing “confusing” statements on issues surrounding WPS.
“Sa ngayon po, wala pong confusion. Ang confusion ay dahil pinapasukan ng pulitika ng kritiko ng administrasyon iyong isyu ng West Philippine Sea (As of now, there is no confusion. The confusion comes because critics of the administration are politicizing the West Philippine Sea issue),” he said.
Roque maintained that Duterte made a “clear” stance that he would uphold the country’s sovereign rights over WPS and would not let any country occupy any of the Philippine territories.
“Hinding-hindi tayo mamimigay ng teritoryo at paninindigan at pangangalagaan natin ang pang-nasyunal na soberenya at ang ating mga sovereign rights,” he said. Philippine News Agency