Malacañang on Monday, May 21, reassured the public that the government is not taking the alleged Chinese militarization of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) sitting down, as it expressed serious concern over the reported landing of Chinese bombers in the disputed territory.
“We have no independent verification. Nonetheless, we take note of the reports that appeared and we express our serious concerns anew on its impact on constructive efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a Palace press briefing.
The Cabinet Secretary belied claims that the administration is merely waiting for China to expand its militarization of the WPS. On the contrary, he said the government is exerting all diplomatic means to address the matter.
For one, Roque noted that the issue concerning the Chinese bombers will be brought up during the country’s Bilateral Consultation Mechanism with China sometime this year.
He also pointed to the statement that was adopted by the Philippines, along with other member-states, during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore, which reiterates the call for non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities in the WPS.
“The Philippines reaffirms the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, avoid actions that could escalate tensions, and [pursue] peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS],” Roque further stated.
On the other hand, the Spokesperson clarified that the government does not consider China as a threat to the country’s national security, especially now that the Philippines has a “newfound friendship with China.”
DOTr Asec fired over dealings
Meanwhile, Malacañang announced that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has fired Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary (Asec.) Mark Tolentino for having deals with a Presidential relative.
Secretary Roque said the immediate reason for the transportation official’s termination was because of his transactions with the President’s sister regarding a government project.
“Ang order po ng Presidente sa lahat ng taong gobyerno, huwag niyo pong kakausapin ang kahit sinong kamag-anak niya na meron pong gustong kahit anong kontrata or appointment sa gobyerno,” Roque said.
“Kapag kinausap niyo po ang kahit sinong kamag-anak ng Presidente, basehan na po ‘yan para kayo ay sibakin. Itong pagsibak po kay Asec. Mark Tolentino, magsisilbing halimbawa po,” he added.
The Palace Spokesperson also warned against an alleged fixer in the judiciary who is reportedly using the President’s name to influence cases. According to Roque, the fixer is the current husband of President Duterte’s “former daughter-in-law.”
“Meron pong umiikot. Ito naman po ay asawa ng isang ex-wife ng anak ng ating Presidente. Ginagamit po ang pangalan ng apo ng Presidente para sa pagpi-fix ng mga kaso,” Roque divulged.
“Sa mga mahistrado po, mga judges and justices, huwag niyo pong entertain-in itong fixer na ito. Hindi po talaga kamag-anak ‘yan ni Presidente… Wala pong awtoridad ‘yan para gamitin ang pangalan ng Presidente at ng apo ng Presidente,” he further cautioned.
The Secretary then reiterated the President’s warning to all government officials to stop entertaining Presidential relatives who ask for favors in connection with any government transaction.
“Alam po ng Presidente ‘yung gawain ninyo. Hindi po ‘yan kinukunsinti. At huwag na pong subukan ang pasensya ng ating Presidente,” Roque said. “Seryoso ang Presidente. Do not even talk to them about any matter concerning government. You will get sacked if you do,” he added.
PH hailed for promoting gender equality at work
During the same press briefing, Malacañang welcomed the Mckinsey Global Institute’s April 2018 report tagging the Philippines as the best performer in the region on gender equality in the workplace.
The report entitled, “The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Asia Pacific” also commended the country for performing best on women’s participation in professional and technical jobs – with a female-to-male ratio of 1.42 – as well as in leadership positions – with a female-to-male ratio of 0.96.
“As these figures highlight the gains in the private sector, the Duterte administration will seek to do better in the public sector by implementing the Magna Carta of Women which states that women in the third level or managerial positions in government shall be incrementally increased to achieve a 50-50 gender balance,” Secretary Roque stressed. ### PCO-Content