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Palace blames Aquino for WPS militarization

By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Malacañang yesterday rejected the use of force to assert the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, saying it will only lead to a military misunderstanding with China.

In a press briefing in Cagayan de Oro City, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said President Benigno S. Aquino III started the militarization of the West Philippine Sea.

Roque said that Aquino’s decision to deploy the Philippine Navy to Scarborough or Panatag Shoal is the main reason why Chinese forces are there and never left.

He also said President Duterte is not apologizing for his decision to be friendly with China.

“Well, hindi po nag-a-apologize ang Presidente roon. Dahil sa totoo lang po, kung tayo po ay gagamit ng dahas gaya ng ginawa ni Presidente Aquino na naging dahilan kung bakit nandoon na ngayon ang mga Tsino sa Panatag, ‘yung pagpapadala ng isang Navy ship, ay magreresulta po ‘yan sa isang hidwaang militar na iniiwasan natin,” he said.

The government sent the ship to Panatag in 2012 to chase Chinese poachers away. A standoff ensued between the Philippines and China, which managed to seize the shoal and has been in control since.

“Kasi noong nakipag-away tayo, malinaw na pinagtabuyan tayo sa Panatag. Hindi po ‘yan mabubura. ‘Wag po nating kalimutan, na si Presidente Aquino ang unang nag-militarize niyan dahil siya nagpadala ng Navy,” he added.

Roque said Duterte’s decision to be friendly with China may lead to the resolution of the territorial dispute.

“Itong pagkakaibigan po, siya pong dahilan kung hindi lang tayo nagkakaroon ng mas malawakang pagsasamahan sa bansang Tsina. At itong bagong pagkakaibigan po, ito rin ang magbibigay ng solusyon dahil ang desisyon po ng Arbitral Tribunal, wala pong kinalaman sa pinag-aagawang isla,” Roque said. “‘Yung mga pinag-aagawang isla po, kailangang maresolba rin ‘yan sa diplomasya,” he added.

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