SEN. Alan Peter Cayetano said Filipinos should just give their “absolute trust” to President Rodrigo Duterte on the issue concerning the Philippines territorial dispute with China.
Cayetano made the remarks as he defended the President over his statements that the Philippines cannot do anything to stop China from building an environmental monitoring station in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
“We continue to assure our people that President Duterte will not give up a single square centimeter of Philippine territory,” Cayetano said in a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, where Duterte is on a two-day visit.
“Many of his statements are misunderstood. When he gives practical statements of what we can and cannot do, it doesn’t mean that he’s giving up any of the territory or it doesn’t mean that he will not exert all efforts for the Philippines’ claim,” he added.
The Philippines and Beijing have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, parts of which are referred to as West Philippine Sea by Manila.
On Sunday, Duterte said the Philippines cannot do anything if China pushes through with its plan to build an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal, which is well within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“We cannot stop China from doing his thing,” Duterte said during a press conference before his departure to Myanmar.
He added that even world power United States could not stop China, which has been building structures on contested islands in the South China Sea.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had warned that China will complete its radar coverage of the entire South China Sea if it finishes the construction of a monitoring station on Panatag Shoal.
Cayetano, Duterte’s runningmate in the 2016 elections, said the President “is doing a lot of things quietly” in dealing with the territorial dispute with China to make sure that economic relations are not affected.