Teodoro: Filipinos should not ignore China’s illegal activities in WPS

“This is my personal belief that formal bilateral discussions should only be held when it is proven that they are sincere,” Defense chief Gilbert Teodoro said. FILE PHOTO/DND

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro has reminded Filipinos not to take for granted China’s illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), more so because of the so-called “gentleman’s agreement” reportedly made by former President Rodrigo with China’s leader Xi Jinping.

“While we realize that accountability is important in the issue on whether or not a so-called ‘gentleman’s agreement’ was forged with China regarding the BRP Sierra Madre and Ayungin Shoal, we Filipinos must not lose sight of the fact that the main threat to our rights in the WPS is the Chinese Government’s illegal activities,” Teodoro said in an open letter.

Teodoro also reminded Filipinos not to fall into the trap of “refocusing the debate”, which he said is part of Chinese propaganda on the issue.

“Let us not fall into the trap set by Chinese propaganda of refocusing the debate on a so-called promise while deflecting attention away from China’s aggressive acts and allowing them to continue with their illegal activities in our exclusive economic zone (EEZ),” he stressed.

Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier admitted former president . Duterte reportedly had a verbal agreement with China not to construct and repair Philippine facilities in the WPS. This includes sending repair materials for BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57).

Roque also clarified that the Duterte-Xi Jinping agreement does not involve the towing or removal of the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal.

In a related development, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año talked with his United States counterpart, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Monday, where they discussed a recent spate of illegal, coercive, aggressive, and deceptive actions by agents of the China Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia in the country’s EEZ.

In a statement, the National Security Council said Año expressed his appreciation for the United States’ continued assurances and reaffirmation of its ironclad commitment to the Philippines-US alliance.

Teodoro and Sullivan, according to statement, reportedly “look forward to the scheduled Japan-Philippines-United States trilateral leaders’ summit in Washington D.C. next week.”