PH will not join US military drills in WPS, Duterte tells China

By Jelly Musico

October 9, 2018, 4:19 pm

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines will not participate in the military exercises the United States will be conducting in the disputed West Philippines Sea (WPS).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte made this remark after Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua informed the Filipino leader about China’s concerns over US military movements in the WPS.

He said Zhao paid a courtesy call to Duterte on Monday to discuss the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Manila next month.

“China, of course, expressed concerns over a naval military exercise the US will be conducting in the area at about the same time that President Xi will be in the Philippines,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

“The President said we’ll not take part in the US military exercise,” he added.

He said the general consensus is to prepare for the fruitful and productive visit of the Chinese leader in November.

“We do not want to mar the visit of President Xi and we’re hoping the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) will make sure the visit would be fruitful and productive,” Roque said. “We want a seamless visit of President Xi.”

Roque said Zhao has also reiterated that China does not desire any military confrontation “as the results of the WPS either with other claimant states or with any other power because China is the biggest user of WPS”.

“Any military confrontation in WPS will have dark consequences as far as Chinese commerce is concern,” Roque said.

Roque said Duterte and Zhao agreed that Xi’s visit in Manila would further cement the already improving Philippines-China relations.

During his courtesy call, Zhao had also discussed with Duterte the joint exploration in the WPS, as both agreed that the proposal would be for the interest of the two countries.

Recently, Roque said the proposal to conduct exploration with China follows the Constitution, which provides that foreigners can participate in a 60-40 deal in favor of the Philippines.

The contested WPS is believed to have large deposits of oil and natural gas. (PNA)