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Libreng mangarap! Roque hopeful China’s artificial islands will become PH’s

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It’s free to dream.

That was the response of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to Senator Grace Poe after the lawmaker said it’s “wishful thinking” that China will give the reefs it reclaimed in the South China Sea to the Philippines.

In a press briefing Friday (February 9), Roque said China already started its construction of artificial islands on the reefs even before the International Arbitral Tribunal invalidated its sweeping claim over the South China Sea.

“Ang sa akin lang naman po, libreng mangarap. Bakit naman po hindi tayo mangangarap?” he told reporters in Camarines Sur.

“Mayroon tayong sovereign rights doon sa EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) kung saan ginawa ang mga islang iyan so ergo, kapag nagkaroon ng pagkakataon, mapapasaatin iyang mga islang iyan,” he added.

In a statement, Poe said the South China Sea “will freeze over first” before China considers returning the artificial islands it built to the Philippines.

She issued the remark after Roque said the Philippines may have to thank China one day for building the artificial islands since they might eventually be part of the country’s territory.

Roque, an abogado, also bucked at Poe’s comparison of China to “a gang of fully armed men” who ransack a home.

“Dahil kapitbahay nila, huwag naman natin silang tawaging mga magnanakaw at bandido. Sabihin na lang natin na talagang mayroon hidwaan, mayroong hindi pagkakasunduan, may mga pinag-aawayan,” he said.