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Too early to tell whether Duterte’s decision leave ‘untouched’ the South China Row will be beneficial to PH – Sen. Gatchalian

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Senator Win Gatchalian refused to speculate on whether President Duterte’s decision not to touch on the issue on the South China Sea with China’s Xi Jinping would have an adverse or positive impact on the country.

The chair of the Senate economic affairs and energy committees, said the President has to make a “very tough balancing act” in his decision not to ruffle China’s feathers while protecting the country’s territory.

“He is balancing between our national interests as well as the external conflicts that beset our country,” he said.

He agreed with Duterte’s strategy to focus on getting investments from China without rocking the boat on diplomatic issues.

“It is too early to tell whether this strategy has yielded the much needed investments to grow our country out of poverty,” Gatchalian said.

Prior to leaving to Vietnam to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit last week, Duterte vowed to take up the issue with Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping, saying that “it’s about time that ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries – not really confront – but to make clear to us what China really wants.”

Yet, the President last Sunday changed his mind at the last minute as claimed that the territorial dispute between China and five Asian countries, was better left untouched.