NSC unaware of PH, China 'gentleman's agreement' on WPS

By Priam Nepomuceno

March 27, 2024, 3:02 pm

<p>NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya <em>(File photo)</em></p>

NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya (File photo)

MANILA – National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said on Wednesday they were unaware of any "gentleman's agreement" that the Philippines entered with China during the past administration regarding the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

"We are not aware of any 'gentleman’s agreement' between China and the Philippines referred to by former secretary Harry Roque. The good former secretary should be one to explain to the public his statements since such an agreement, if it exists, infringes and violates our sovereignty as a nation," Malaya said in a statement forwarded to reporters.

Malaya, also National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) spokesperson, was referring to Roque's claims that former president Rodrigo R. Duterte reportedly had a verbal agreement with China not to construct and repair Philippine facilities in the WPS, including refraining from sending construction materials for BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57).

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

"China has repeatedly claimed that there was an alleged promise to remove or tow away BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal. In so far as the NTF-WPS is concerned, we have not seen any document from the former administration that validates or confirms the existence of this so-called 'gentleman’s agreement' and the terms of such agreement under the previous administration," Malaya noted.

The former presidential spokesperson added the agreement was non-binding on the term of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

"In any case, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has settled the matter that even if such exists, he has rescinded it. Therefore, China’s repeated reference to such 'promises' serves no purpose as there is no legally binding agreement between the two countries under the Marcos Jr. administration," the NSC official noted.

Malaya also emphasized that the Philippines has not violated the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) as claimed by China.

"As has been seen by the world, the Philippines has acted with self-restraint in the conduct of activities and has not acted to complicate or escalate disputes that affect peace and stability," he added.

Also, Malaya said it was China that has been continually violating the DOC by interfering with a routinary resupply mission to a long-standing Philippine outpost in the WPS by water-cannoning, dangerous maneuvers, and other aggressive and illegal actions which have increased tensions in the vital waterway. (PNA)