By Prince Golez
President Rodrigo Duterte is standing by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who earlier sought the immediate departure of 44 Chinese vessels from the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said.
“Under the qualified political doctrine, of course, the president stands by the statements of our Secretary of Defense,” Duterte’s mouthpiece Harry Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source Monday.
However, Roque was quick to add that the continued presence of the Chinese ships in the area won’t lead the Philippines and China to war.
“We’re hoping that our friendly relations will soon resolve this latest impasse,” he added.
In a statement Saturday, Lorenzana said he cannot be fooled by China’s claim that the vessels were sheltering from bad weather.
“The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan,” he said.