No ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between Former Pres. Duterte, China—Atty. Panelo

No ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between Former Pres. Duterte, China—Atty. Panelo

A range of reactions followed the alleged ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between Former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and China, regarding the BRP Sierra Madre stationed at the Ayungin Shoal.

Former Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque claimed that Duterte had made arrangements to facilitate a smooth resupply mission for soldiers in that area.

A few days after Roque’s statement, Former Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Atty. Salvador Panelo stated that no such agreement had taken place.

Panelo claimed that he personally spoke with the former president and denied the existence of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ or an understanding based on mutual trust or party lines, instead of legality.

Panelo asserted that, in fact, due to the lack of agreement between the two countries, especially on the issue of territoriality in the South China Sea, Duterte utilized and intensified matters where he knew agreements could be reached, such as trade.

 “He [Former Pres. Duterte] didn’t enter into any agreements whatsoever. He even fought it. Right from the get-go, he mentioned the arbitral [ruling], but one reacted to that. But he remained steadfast. So what President Duterte did was to look for areas where we can agree on– our trade relations, our security, that’s where he concentrated on.”

“There’s no such thing as meeting halfway, he only looked for something better— because we can’t agree on this matter, so we’ll agree on another matter.”

“There’s no such thing as meeting halfway, but we looked for a better relationship where we, strengthened what’s good for us.”

“Yes, because we already had a relationship way back, so we’ll just continue that.”

“He just upheld what we stand for concerning the West Philippine Sea, that’s it,” Panelo stressed.

To recall, President Bongbong Marcos signed Executive Order No. 57, aimed at strengthening the maritime security and maritime domain awareness of Filipinos, where the president also mentioned the serious challenges, which he said threaten not only the country’s territorial integrity but also, as he said, the “peaceful existence of Filipinos” in the disputed area.


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