EXPRESSING belief that there is no malice or anything negative in the recent pronouncement of President Duterte that China has assured him that he will not get ousted, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Tito Sotto III defended the Chief Executive by saying that the statement only affirms the friendship between the two countries.
“Hindi pakikialam yun. Wala naman siyang (Xi Jin Ping) ginawa. It merely tells us that our president has formed a friendship with China’s president,” Sotto maintained.
Based on reports, Chinese President Xi Jin Ping personally gave President Duterte his assurance that the Philippine leader would not be booted out of office.
Senate President Aquilino Koko Pimentel echoed the view of Sotto insisting that both Presidents were merely underscoring their good friendship.
Pimentel said the Philippines’ relationship with the United States was formalized through treaties and he sees no reason why we should not do the same with China.
“Respective government agencies should pursue this. It is understandable if China gave its commitment because they are stronger,” Pimentel said.
However the Senate chief insisted that the present administration should pursue the Philippine maritime claim in the West Philippine sea.
“We should be thankful that there is an arbitral ruling in our favor. We should pursue our maritime claims.” Pimentel said.
He added that President Duterte is actually not giving up but he is also realistic about the situation.
“Hindi ko nakikita na the president is giving up. Ang tanong lang diyan is what can we really do about it?” Pimentel said.
In one of his speeches, President Duterte divulged that the Chinese president gave him encouragement and assurance.
“The assurances of [President] Xi Jin Ping were very encouraging… ‘We will not allow you to be taken out from your office, and we will not allow the Philippines to go to the dogs’,” Duterte was quoted as saying.
But Senator Panfilo Lacson questioned this statement of President Duterte insisting that no foreign country should determine the fate of the Philippines, its people and its leaders.
“If he really said that, and in the context that we are made to understand, all I can say is, God help the Philippines! We are a democratic and sovereign country. Nobody, not any foreign country but the Philippines and the Filipinos can determine and decide what is best for us,” Lacson said.
A staunch critic of President Duterte, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV expressed doubts that China will ever utter such statement saying that Xi Jin Ping knows that he has no power over changes of leadership in the country.
“Duterte’s statement betrays his paranoia about the state of affairs in his own country. No one is trying to kick him out; he is doing the destabilizing all by himself,” Trillanes said.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said Duterte should not lean on China for support, considering the West Philippine Sea dispute.
“Ang pahayag bang ito ang kapalit ng pananahimik ng administrasyon sa West Philippine Sea? Is this the reason why we are willing to enter into loans with China even if the interest rates are 4 to 5 times higher than that of Japan or South Korea?” Pangilinan said in a statement.
Senator Leila de Lima who is now in jail said, “Duterte aided China gain substantial military control in the fiercely contested and strategic maritime area in the region”
“Who would not protect such a valuable and devoted puppet” De Lima said.