MALACAÑANG on Tuesday said tapping the United States amid the latest tensions with China over the West Philippine Sea needs “serious study.”
“We will wait for the President’s decision on that. These are very serious matters and require serious study,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a briefing, Tuesday.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. in an interview with CNN Philippines said if the notes verbales issued against China remain unanswered, the Philippines can turn to the United States.
“We refine and get clearer understanding with our only military ally, what happens if this actually escalates into a clear act of aggression,” Mr. Locsin said, referring to the United States.
While Mr. Panelo described China’s actions as “an affront to our territory and to our sovereignty,” he said the government should still wait for China’s official response before acting on the ongoing conflict.
He maintained this even as Mr. Locsin noted in the same interview that China has not responded to any of the notes verbales he had filed.
“We’re still waiting. I’m sure they will respond in time,” he said. “Wala pa eh. Baka next week, pagdating namin doon ay mayroon na, ‘di ba,” Mr. Panelo for his part said.
He explained the government needs to be careful in addressing the presence of Chinese vessels within the Philippines exclusive economic zone.
“Again, as I said, this will require a serious study, because there may be repercussions on both sides.”
Mr. Panelo on Monday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte will likely raise the issue during bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping when Mr. Duterte visits Beijing for the Belt and Road Forum next week. — C.A.T.