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Differing political leaders criticize China agreement

DESPITE their differing political views, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman concurs with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the problematic nature of a gentleman’s agreement with China.

Lagman emphasized that engaging in such an agreement with a country he termed a “chronic aggressor,” referring to China, would compromise Philippine sovereignty.

He specifically referenced a purported agreement between former President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping concerning the West Philippine Sea (WPS), disclosed by Duterte’s former spokesperson, Harry Roque. Lagman, who leads the opposition Liberal Party, stressed that such an agreement lacks legitimacy and should not bind the Philippines.

President Marcos also expressed concern over the notion of a gentleman’s agreement with China, particularly if it implies seeking permission from another country to navigate sovereign territories.

He noted his administration’s lack of information regarding the alleged deal and pledged to clarify the matter with the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian.

The controversy stems from Roque’s revelation that Duterte verbally agreed with China to maintain the status quo in the WPS, prohibiting the Philippines from constructing or repairing installations in the area.

However, Roque clarified that the agreement was non-binding and would not apply during the Marcos administration.

Despite assertions by Duterte’s allies that no such agreement existed, critics, including retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, argue that Duterte effectively surrendered rights over Ayungin Shoal.

The dispute, along with broader issues surrounding the WPS and China’s aggressive actions, is expected to feature prominently in discussions during the upcoming trilateral meeting between the Philippines, Japan, and the United States, with President Marcos en route to attend.


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