MANILA — Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go clarified Saturday that President Rodrigo Duterte did not order the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to stop patrolling the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Go made this assurance after opposition lawmaker Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano on Saturday claimed that the Duterte administration has ordered the military to stop guarding the area.
“The president will not order that. First of all, what’s ours is ours. We will patrol in those areas,” Go said in Filipino.
“I know that, even in his talks abroad, the President always emphasizes that what’s ours is ours,” he said in a media interview after his speech in a gathering of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. in Tondo, Manila.
Citing military sources, Alejano earlier said he received information that Duterte ordered the AFP to stop wasting their time in patrolling the West Philippine Sea.
The opposition legislator, however, said he doesn’t have solid evidence to back his claim but stressed that he trusts his “sources”.
China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims on the strategic sea lane, where trillion dollars of trade passes annually.
On May 11, a Philippine Navy boat resupplying Filipino troops at the Ayungin Shoal was challenged and harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard and China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano last week confirmed the government had lodged a protest to Beijing regarding the incident. PNA-northboundasia.com